EP1863643B1 - Liquid container and method of manufacturing liquid container - Google Patents

Liquid container and method of manufacturing liquid container Download PDF

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Publication number
EP1863643B1
EP1863643B1 EP20060731228 EP06731228A EP1863643B1 EP 1863643 B1 EP1863643 B1 EP 1863643B1 EP 20060731228 EP20060731228 EP 20060731228 EP 06731228 A EP06731228 A EP 06731228A EP 1863643 B1 EP1863643 B1 EP 1863643B1
Authority
EP
European Patent Office
Prior art keywords
liquid
electrode
sensor unit
liquid container
sensor
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Expired - Fee Related
Application number
EP20060731228
Other languages
German (de)
French (fr)
Other versions
EP1863643A1 (en
Inventor
Akihisa c/o SEIKO EPSON CORPORATION WANIBE
Minoru c/o Seiko Epson Corporation YAJIMA
Akira c/o Seiko Epson Corporation ICHIHASHI
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Seiko Epson Corp
Original Assignee
Seiko Epson Corp
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to JP2005103265A priority Critical patent/JP4613667B2/en
Priority to JP2005140437A priority patent/JP4984429B2/en
Priority to JP2005357277A priority patent/JP4710583B2/en
Priority to JP2005357278A priority patent/JP4710584B2/en
Priority to JP2005357276A priority patent/JP4710582B2/en
Priority to JP2005357275A priority patent/JP4710581B2/en
Priority to PCT/JP2006/307280 priority patent/WO2006104258A1/en
Application filed by Seiko Epson Corp filed Critical Seiko Epson Corp
Publication of EP1863643A1 publication Critical patent/EP1863643A1/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of EP1863643B1 publication Critical patent/EP1863643B1/en
Application status is Expired - Fee Related legal-status Critical
Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/17Ink jet characterised by ink handling
    • B41J2/175Ink supply systems ; Circuit parts therefor
    • B41J2/17566Ink level or ink residue control
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J2/00Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed
    • B41J2/005Typewriters or selective printing mechanisms characterised by the printing or marking process for which they are designed characterised by bringing liquid or particles selectively into contact with a printing material
    • B41J2/01Ink jet
    • B41J2/17Ink jet characterised by ink handling
    • B41J2/175Ink supply systems ; Circuit parts therefor
    • B41J2/17503Ink cartridges
    • B41J2/17526Electrical contacts to the cartridge
    • B41J2/1753Details of contacts on the cartridge, e.g. protection of contacts

Abstract

A liquid container (21) has : an outer electrode (32d) contactable with an electrode (91c) of a liquid consuming apparatus ; an electrode supporting member (32, 33) which supports the outer electrode (32d) and is fixed to a container body (31) ; a piezoelectric sensor unit (35) which is discrete from the electrode supporting member (32, 33), which is attached to the container body (31) for detecting liquid existing in a part of a liquid supply path and which includes a piezoelectric element (41) having an electrode (41a) ; and a connector (45) which has an elasticity and which electrically connects the outer electrode (32d) to the electrode (41a) of the piezoelectric element (41).

Description

    TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present invention relates to a liquid container to be applied to a liquid ejecting apparatus (liquid consuming apparatus) such as a recording apparatus of an ink jet type. The present invention also relates to a circuit board for the liquid container.
  • BACKGROUND ART
  • Typical examples of a liquid ejecting apparatus (liquid consuming apparatus) include a recording apparatus of an ink jet type which comprises a recoding head of an ink jet type for recording an image. Examples of other liquid ejecting apparatuses include an apparatus comprising a coloring material ejecting head to be used for manufacturing a color filter of a liquid crystal display, an apparatus comprising an electrode material (conducting paste) ejecting head to be used for forming an electrode of an organic EL display or a field emission display (FED), an apparatus comprising a bioorganism ejecting head to be used for manufacturing a biochip, and an apparatus comprising a sample ejecting head to be a precision pipette.
  • The recording apparatus of the ink jet type according to the typical example of the liquid ejecting apparatus has such a structure that an ink jet recording head having pressure generating means for pressurizing a pressure generating chamber and a nozzle opening for ejecting a pressurized ink as an ink droplet is mounted on a carriage and the ink in an ink container is consecutively supplied to the recording head through a passage, and printing can be thus carried out continuously. The ink container is constituted as a removable cartridge which can easily be exchanged by a user when the ink is consumed, for example.
  • To transfer information between the recording apparatus and the ink container, an electric or electronic equipment is mounted to the ink container. For example, a consumed ink amount, a remaining ink amount, etc. are transferred as information between the recording apparatus and the ink container.
  • JP-2002-337358-A ( EP-1199178-A ) discloses a technology in which a memory is mounted to an ink container and a consumed ink amount or a remaining ink amount is stored in the memory.
  • JP-2001-146030-A ( EP-1053877-A ) and JP-147146-A ( EP-1053877-A ) disclose a technology in which a piezoelectric sensor is provided to an ink container to detect an ink end.
  • JP-2005-66902-A ( EP-1462263-A ) discloses a technology in which electrodes that contact with and separate from each other depending on the presence or absence of a pressure applied to ink and also depending on a remaining ink amount are provided to an ink container to detect an ink end and so on.
  • JP-2004-106382 discloses a technology in which a piezoelectric sensor is provided to an ink container to detect an ink end, and information is transferred between the ink container and a recording apparatus by wireless.
  • In addition, EP0710569-A discloses a structure for electric connection between a carriage of a recording apparatus and an ink jet type recording unit mounted to the carriage.
  • Document US 2002/135623 A1 discloses a method of controlling an ink jet recording apparatus on which a liquid container is to be detachably mounted, the liquid container having a piezoelectric device for detecting the liquid.
  • In a case in which an electric or electronic equipment is provided to an ink container removably mountable to a recording apparatus:
  1. (1) it is necessary to reliably establish an electric connection between the recording apparatus and the equipment;
  2. (2) it is necessary to protect the equipment from an external force that the ink container receives from an electrode of the recording apparatus;
  3. (3) it is necessary to protect the equipment from ink mist and dust;
  4. (4) it is necessary to design the ink container that can be easily and efficiently subjected to recycle process after the use of the ink container; and
  5. (5) it is necessary to suppress a cost for manufacturing the ink container.
DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention has been made in view of these circumstances.
  • The present invention provides a liquid container removably mountable to a liquid consuming apparatus, the liquid container comprising: a container body having a liquid accommodating portion for accommodating liquid therein, and a liquid supply port from which the liquid can be discharged to the liquid consuming apparatus; an outer electrode contactable with an electrode of the liquid consuming apparatus; an electrode supporting member which supports the outer electrode and is fixed to the container body; a sensor unit which is discrete from the electrode supporting member, is attached to the container body and includes an electrode; and a connector which has an elasticity and which electrically connects the outer electrode to the electrode of the sensor.
  • It is undesirable to allow all of the liquid in the liquid path from the liquid container the liquid ejection head to be consumed, because if the liquid ejection head operates in the absence of the liquid, damage may occur. By providing a piezoelectric sensor unit in the liquid path, it is possible to detect that the liquid in the liquid cartridge has been consumed, while liquid remains in the liquid path leading to the liquid ejection head. This way, the cartridge can be replaced while there is still liquid in the liquid ejection head, and so damage can be avoided.
  • By locating the piezoelectric sensor in the liquid cartridge near the liquid supply port it is possible to maximize the amount of liquid that can be withdrawn from the liquid cartridge before the piezoelectric sensor detects that the liquid has been consumed. That is, only a small amount of liquid is needed to fill the liquid path between the piezoelectric sensor and the liquid head once the piezoelectric sensor detects that all of the ink in the liquid cartridge's reservoir has been consumed.
  • The present disclosure relates to the subject matter contained in Japanese patent application Nos.:
    • 2005-103265 filed on March 31, 2005 ;
    • 2005-140437 filed on May 12, 2005;
    • 2005-357275 filed on December 12, 2005;
    • 2005-357276 filed on December 12, 2005;
    • 2005-357277 filed on December 12, 2005; and
    • 2005-357278 filed on December 12, 2005.
    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
    • Fig. 1 is a perspective view showing a schematic structure of an ink jet type recording apparatus (liquid consuming apparatus) in which an ink cartridge according to a first embodiment of the invention is used.
    • Fig. 2 is an exploded perspective view showing a schematic structure of the ink cartridge according to the first embodiment of the invention.
    • Fig. 3 is a perspective view showing detailed structures of components including a sensor unit (liquid detecting device) provided in the ink cartridge of Fig. 2.
    • Fig. 4 is a perspective view showing the detailed structure of components including the sensor unit (liquid detecting device) provided in the ink cartridge of Fig. 2 as seen in another direction.
    • Fig. 5 is an exploded perspective view showing the sensor unit in Figs. 3 and 4.
    • Fig. 6 is an exploded perspective view showing the sensor unit in Figs. 3 and 4 as seen at another angle.
    • Fig. 7 is a longitudinal sectional view showing a portion of the ink cartridge in Fig. 2, to which the sensor unit is attached.
    • Fig. 8 is an enlarged sectional view showing a main part of the sensor unit in Fig. 7.
    • Fig. 9 is a sectional view taken along an IX - IX line in Fig. 8.
    • Fig. 10 is an exploded perspective view showing a schematic structure of an ink cartridge according to a second embodiment of the invention.
    • Fig. 11 is a front view showing a portion in which a sensor unit is assembled into the ink cartridge.
    • Fig. 12 is a sectional view seen in the same direction as that in Fig. 11.
    • Fig. 13 is a perspective view showing an example of a printer.
    • Fig. 14 is a perspective view showing an ink cartridge according to a third embodiment of the present invention.
    • Fig. 15 is an exploded perspective view showing the ink cartridge according to the third embodiment.
    • Fig. 16 is a perspective view showing a board and a cover member shown in Fig. 15.
    • Figs. 17A, 17B and 17C show the board shown in Fig. 15.
    • Figs. 18A and 18B are exploded perspective views showing a sensor shown in Fig. 15.
    • Fig. 19 is a sectional view of the ink cartridge taken along a plane parallel to side surfaces at A-A of Fig. 14.
    • Fig. 20 is a sectional view of the ink cartridge taken along a plane parallel to a front surface at A-A of Fig. 14.
    • Fig. 21 is a block diagram showing an ink flow path of the ink cartridge shown in Fig. 14.
    • Figs. 22A and 22B are a top view and a back view showing a state in which the ink cartridge is mounted to a carriage.
    • Fig. 23 is a sectional view taken along a plane B-B of Fig. 22A.
    • Fig. 24 is a sectional view taken along a plane C-C of Fig. 22A.
    BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
  • An ink cartridge, which is an example of a liquid container, according to a first embodiment of the invention will be described below with reference to the drawings.
  • Fig. 1 shows a schematic structure of a recording apparatus of an ink jet type (a liquid consuming apparatus) in which the ink cartridge according to the embodiment is used. In Fig. 1, the reference numeral 1 denotes a carriage. The carriage 1 is constituted to be guided by means of a guide member 4 and reciprocated in an axial direction of a platen 5 through a timing belt 3 to be driven by means of a carriage motor 2.
  • A recording head 12 of an ink jet type is mounted on a side of the carriage 1 which is opposed to a recording paper 6, and an ink cartridge 100 for supplying an ink to the recording head 12 is removably attached to an upper part thereof.
  • A cap member 13 is disposed in a home position to be a non-printing region of the recording apparatus (a right side in the drawing). The cap member 13 has such a structure as to be pushed against a nozzle forming surface of the recording head 12 and to form a hermetic closed space together with the nozzle forming surface when the recording head 12 mounted on the carriage 1 is moved to the home position. A pump unit 10 for applying a negative pressure to the hermetic closed space formed by the cap member 13 to execute cleaning is disposed below the cap member 13.
  • Moreover, wiping means 11 including an elastic plate such as a rubber is disposed in the vicinity of a printing region side of the cap member 13 so as to be freely moved forward and backward in a horizontal direction with respect to a moving track of the recording head 12, for example, and has such a structure as to freely sweep away the nozzle forming surface of the recording head 12 if necessary when the carriage 1 is reciprocated toward the cap member 13 side.
  • As to the details of the carriage 1, reference is made to Figs. 22A to 24 and the description associated therewith because the structure of the carriage 1 is similar to the structure of a carriage 19.
  • Fig. 2 is a perspective view showing a schematic structure of the ink cartridge 100. The ink cartridge 100 includes a sensor unit 200 as an electric or electronic equipment.
  • The ink cartridge 100 has a cartridge case (a container body) 101 formed of a resin which includes an ink storage portion (liquid accommodating portion) and a cover 102 formed of a resin which is attached to cover a lower end face of the cartridge case 101. The cover 102 is provided for protecting various sealing films stuck to the lower end face of the cartridge case 101. An ink feeding portion 103 is protruded from the lower end face of the cartridge case 101 and a cover film 104 for protecting an ink feeding port (liquid supply port which is not shown) is stuck to the lower end face of the ink feeding portion 103.
  • The cartridge case 101 takes a shape of an almost rectangular parallelepiped having a small thickness (depth) which includes a pair of side surfaces 101a having a great width, a pair of side surfaces 101b having a small width, a top face 101c and a bottom face 101d. A sensor accommodating recess portion 110 for accommodating the sensor unit 200 is provided in a lower part of the small-width side surface 101b1 in the cartridge case 101. The sensor unit 200 and a spring (urging member) 300 are accommodated in the sensor accommodating recess portion 110.
  • The spring 300 pushes the sensor unit 200 against a sensor receiving wall 120 (see Fig. 7) in an inner bottom part of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 to deform a sealing ring 270, thereby maintaining a sealing property between the sensor unit 200 and the cartridge case 101, which will be described below.
  • In this case, a compression coil spring taking a cylindrical shape is used as the spring 300, and the spring 300 and the sensor unit 200 are arranged in a direction orthogonal to the top face 101c and the bottom face 101d of the cartridge case 101, that is, a direction of a height of the cartridge case 101. The sensor unit 200 and the spring 300 are accommodated in the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 such that the sensor unit 200 is positioned on an upper side of the sensor receiving wall 120 and the spring 300 is further positioned on an upper side of the sensor unit 200.
  • The sensor accommodating recess portion 110 has an insertion opening on the small-width side surface 101b1 of the cartridge case 101, and the sensor unit 200 and the spring 300 are inserted from the insertion opening. The insertion opening of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 is covered (sealed, if necessary) with a cover member (electrode supporting member) 150 from an outside in a state in which the sensor unit 200 and the spring 300 are accommodated therein. The cover member 150 is constituted by a cover 400 having such a size as to cover the insertion opening of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 and a circuit board 500 formed separately from the cover 400 and fitted and fixed into the cover 400, which will be described below in detail. If necessary, the cover 400 may have a sealing function for sealing the insertion opening of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110.
  • Figs. 3 and 4 are exploded perspective views showing each of structures of the sensor unit 200, the spring 300, the cover 400 and the circuit board 500. Moreover, Fig. 5 is an exploded perspective view showing the sensor unit 200, Fig. 6 is an exploded perspective view showing the sensor unit 200 seen at another angle, and Fig. 7 is a longitudinal sectional view showing the sensor unit accommodating portion of the ink cartridge 100. Moreover, Fig. 8 is a sectional view showing a main part of the sensor unit 200 and Fig. 9 is a sectional view taken along an IX - IX line in Fig. 8.
  • As shown in Fig. 7, the sensor receiving wall 120 for receiving a lower end of the sensor unit 200 is provided in the inner bottom part of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 of the cartridge case 101. The sensor receiving wall 120 has an upper surface mounting the sensor unit 200 thereon. That is, the sensor receiving wall 120 is a portion with which the seal ring 270 provided on a lower end of the sensor unit 200 comes in pressure contact by an elastic force of the spring 300.
  • A pair of an upstream side sensor buffer chamber 122 and a downstream side sensor buffer chamber 123 are provided on a lower side of the sensor receiving wall 120. The buffer chambers 122 and 123 are divided from each other with a partition wall 127 interposed therebetween. The sensor receiving wall 120 is provided with a pair of communicating holes 132 and 133 corresponding to the sensor buffer chambers 122 and 123.
  • The ink cartridge case 101 has a feeding path (liquid supply path) so that the ink stored in the ink storing portion (liquid accommodating portion) can be discharged from the ink feeding port (ink supply port) to an outside, which is not particularly shown. The sensor accommodating recess portion 110 is positioned in the vicinity of the termination of the feeding path, i.e. in the vicinity of the ink feeding port, and the sensor unit 200 is provided in the sensor accommodating recess portion 110. In this case, the upstream side sensor buffer chamber 122 is caused to communicate with an upstream side feeding passage of the feeding path through a connecting hole 124 and the downstream side sensor buffer chamber 123 is caused to communicate with a downstream side feeding passage of the feeding path through a connecting hole 125. The downstream side feeding passage of the feeding path continues to the ink feeding port (liquid supply port). The sensor unit 200 is disposed to detect whether or not the ink exists in the vicinity of the termination of the feeding path, i.e. in a portion of the ink feeding path.
  • Moreover, lower surfaces of the sensor buffer chambers 122 and 123 may be sealed with a rigid wall but opened in the embodiment, and the openings are covered with a thin sealing film 105 formed of a resin.
  • As shown in Figs. 5 and 6, the sensor unit 200 is constituted by a plate-shaped unit base 210 having a recess portion 211 on an upper surface and formed of a resin, a plate-shaped sensor base 220 accommodated in the recess portion 211 provided on the upper surface of the unit base 210 and formed of a metal, a sensor chip 230 mounted and fixed onto the upper surface of the sensor base 220, an adhesive film 240 for fixing the sensor base 220 to the unit base 210, a pair of elastically deformable terminal plates (connectors) 250 disposed on an upper side of the unit base 210, a plate-shaped presser cover 260 for pressing the terminal plates 250 and protecting the sensor chip 230, and the seal ring 270 provided on a lower surface of the unit base 210 and formed of a rubber.
  • Each of the components will be described in detail. As shown in Fig. 6, the unit base 210 has the recess portion 211 which is provided on an upper surface center and to which the sensor base 220 is fitted. The unit base 210 also has a pair of attachment walls 215 which are located on an outside of an upper surface wall 214 around the recess portion 211 and which are set to be higher than the upper surface wall 214 by one step. The attachment walls 215 are opposed to each other across the recess portion 211, and four support pins 216 are positioned on the attachment walls 215 and are erected at four corners of the upper surface of the unit base 210. Moreover, an inlet side passage 212 and an outlet side passage 213 (liquid reserving spaces) constituted by circular through holes pass through a bottom wall of the recess portion 211. Furthermore, an elliptical protruded portion 217 to which the seal ring 270 is fitted is provided on a lower surface of the unit base 210 as shown in Fig. 5, and the inlet side passage 212 and the outlet side passage 213 are positioned in the protruded portion 217. The seal ring 270 is constituted by a ring packing formed of a rubber and has a lower surface provided with an annular protruded portion 271 taking a semicircular section.
  • The sensor base 220 is constituted by a metal plate such as stainless which has a higher rigidity than a resin in order to enhance the acoustic characteristic of the sensor. The sensor base 220 takes the shape of a rectangular plate having four chamfered corners and includes an inlet side passage 222 and an outlet side passage 223 (liquid reserving spaces) formed by two through holes corresponding to the inlet side passage 212 and the outlet side passage 213 in the unit base 210.
  • An adhesive layer 242 is formed on the upper surface of the sensor base 220 by sticking a double-sided adhesive film or applying an adhesive, for example, and the sensor chip 230 is mounted and fixed onto the adhesive layer 242.
  • The sensor chip 230 has a sensor cavity 232 for receiving an ink (liquid) to be detected. The sensor cavity 232 has a lower surface opened to freely receive the ink and an upper surface closed with an oscillating plate 233, and a piezoelectric unit 234 is provided on an upper surface of the oscillating plate 233.
  • More specifically, as shown in Figs. 7 and 8, the sensor chip 230 is constituted by a ceramic-made chip body 231 having, on a center, the sensor cavity 232 constituted by a circular opening, the oscillating plate 233 laminated on an upper surface of the chip body 231 and constituting a bottom face wall of the sensor cavity 232, the piezoelectric unit 234 laminated on the oscillating plate 233, and terminals 235 and 236 laminated on the chip body 231.
  • The piezoelectric unit (piezoelectric element) 234 is constituted by upper and lower electrode layers connected to the terminals 235 and 236 and a piezoelectric layer laminated between the upper and lower electrode layers, which is not specifically shown. The piezoelectric unit 234 fulfills the function of deciding an ink end based on a difference in an electrical characteristic depending on the presence of the ink in the sensor cavity 232, for example. For a material of the piezoelectric layer, it is possible to use lead zirconate titanate (PZT), lanthanum lead zirconate titanate (PLZT) or a lead-free piezoelectric film which does not utilize lead.
  • In the sensor chip 230, a lower surface of the chip body 231 is mounted on a central part of the upper surface of the sensor base 220 and is thus fixed integrally with the sensor base 220 through the adhesive layer 242, and the sensor base 220 and the sensor chip 230 are sealed with the adhesive layer 242 at the same time. The inlet side passages 222 and 212 and the outlet side passages 223 and 213 (the liquid reserving spaces) in the sensor base 220 and the unit base 210 communicate with the sensor cavity 232 of the sensor chip 230. By this structure, the ink enters the sensor cavity 232 through the inlet side passages 212 and 222 and is discharged from the sensor cavity 232 through the outlet side passages 223 and 213.
  • Thus, the sensor base 220 formed of a metal on which the sensor chip 230 is mounted is accommodated in the recess portion 211 on the upper surface of the unit base 210. The adhesive film 240 formed of a resin is put from thereabove so that the sensor base 220 and the unit base 210 are bonded integrally with each other.
  • More specifically, the adhesive film 240 has an opening 241 on a center and is put from above in a state in which the sensor base 220 is accommodated in the recess portion 211 on the upper surface of the unit base 210 so that the sensor chip 230 is exposed from the opening 241 on the center. Moreover, the adhesive film 240 has an inner peripheral side bonded to the upper surface of the sensor base 220 through the adhesive layer 242 and an outer peripheral side bonded to the upper surface wall 214 provided around the recess portion 211 of the unit base 210, that is, the adhesive film 240 is stuck across the upper surfaces of the two components (the sensor base 220 and the unit base 210) so that the sensor base 220 and the unit base 210 are fixed to each other and are sealed at the same time.
  • In this case, the upper surface of the sensor base 220 is protruded upward from the recess portion 211 of the unit base 210. Consequently, the adhesive film 240 is bonded to the upper surface of the sensor base 220 in a higher position than a bonding position to the upper surface wall 214 provided around the recess portion 211 of the unit base 210. Thus, the height of a film bonding surface to the sensor base 220 is set to be greater than that of a film bonding surface to the unit base 210. Consequently, the sensor base 220 can be pressed by means of the adhesive film 240 with a step so that a fixing force of the sensor base 220 to the unit base 210 can be increased. Moreover, it is also possible to carry out an attachment having no looseness.
  • Moreover, each of the terminal plates 250 has a band-shaped board portion 251, a spring piece 252 protruded from a side edge of the board portion 251, attachment holes 253 formed on both sides of the board portion 251, and bent pieces 254 formed on both ends of the board portion 251. Each of the terminal plates 250 is disposed on upper surfaces of the attachment walls 215 of the unit base 210 in a state in which the support pins 216 are inserted through the attachment holes 253 to carry out positioning. The presser cover 260 is mounted from thereabove so that the terminal plates 250 are interposed between and held by the unit base 210 and the presser cover 260. The spring pieces 252 are conducted in contact with the terminals 235 and 236 provided on the upper surface of the sensor chip 230 in that held state.
  • The presser cover 260 has a plate portion 261 to be mounted on the upper surfaces of the attachment walls 215 of the unit base 210 with the board portions 251 of the terminal plates 250 interposed therebetween, four attachment holes 262 provided at four corners of the plate portion 261 and fitted around the support pins 216 of the unit base 210, an erected wall 263 provided on an upper surface of a center of the plate portion 261, a spring receiving seat 264 provided on the erected wall 263, and concave portions 265 provided on a lower surface of the plate portion 261 and forming a relief for the spring pieces 252 of the terminal plates 250. The presser cover 260 is mounted on the upper surface of the unit base 210 while pressing the terminal plates 250 from above and thus protects the sensor plate 220 and the sensor chip 230 which are accommodated in the recess portion 211 formed on the upper surface of the unit base 210.
  • In order to assemble the sensor unit 200 by the above components, first of all, the adhesive layer 242 is formed on the substantially whole upper surface of the sensor base 220 and the sensor chip 230 is mounted on the adhesive layer 242. Consequently, the sensor chip 230 and the sensor base 220 are fixed and sealed integrally with each other through the adhesive layer 242.
  • Subsequently, the sensor base 220 provided integrally with the sensor chip 230 is accommodated in the recess portion 211 formed on the upper surface of the unit base 210 and the adhesive film 240 is put from above in that state. Consequently, the inner peripheral side of the adhesive film 240 is bonded to the upper surface of the sensor base 220 through the adhesive layer 242 and the outer peripheral side of the adhesive film 240 is bonded to the upper surface wall 214 provided around the recess portion 211 of the unit base 210. Consequently, the sensor base 220 and the unit base 210 can be fixed and sealed integrally with each other through the adhesive film 240.
  • Next, the terminal plates 250 are provided on the unit base 210 while the attachment holes 253 are fitted around the support pins 216 of the unit base 210, and the presser cover 260 is disposed thereabove. Moreover, the seal ring 270 is fitted around the protruded portion 217 formed on the lower surface of the unit base 210 in an optional stage. Thus, the sensor unit 200 can be assembled.
  • The sensor unit 200 is constituted as described above and is accommodated in the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 of the cartridge case 100 together with the spring 300. When the spring 300 presses the presser cover 260 downward in the accommodating state as shown in Fig. 7, the seal ring 270 provided on the lower surface of the sensor unit 200 comes in pressure contact with the sensor receiving wall 120 in the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 while deforming. Consequently, a sealing property between the sensor unit 200 and the cartridge case 101 is maintained.
  • By carrying out the assembly, the upstream side buffer chamber 122 in the cartridge case 101 is caused to communicate with the inlet side passages 212 and 222 in the sensor unit 200 through the communicating hole 132 of the sensor receiving wall 120 and the downstream side buffer chamber 123 in the cartridge case 101 is caused to communicate with the outlet side passages 213 and 223 in the sensor unit 200 through the communicating hole 133 of the sensor receiving wall 120 under the condition that the sealing property is maintained. The inlet side passages 212 and 222, the sensor cavity 232 and the outlet side passages 223 and 213 are provided in series in the feeding path in the cartridge case 101 so as to be arranged from the upstream side in this order.
  • More specifically, the feeding path in the cartridge 100 includes the upstream side passage connected to the sensor cavity 232 and the downstream side passage connected to the sensor cavity 232. The upstream side passage connected to the sensor cavity 232 includes the upstream side buffer chamber 122 having a large passage section and in the cartridge case 101, the communicating hole 132 in the sensor receiving wall 120 of the cartridge case 101, and the inlet side passages 212 and 222 (upstream side narrow and small passages) having small passage sections and in the sensor unit 200. Moreover, the downstream side passage connected to the sensor cavity 232 includes the downstream side buffer chamber 123 having a large passage section and in the cartridge case 101, the communicating hole 133 in the sensor receiving wall 120 of the cartridge case 101, and the outlet side passages 213 and 223 (downstream side narrow and small passages) having small passage sections and in the sensor unit 200.
  • Moreover, the cover 400 for closing the opening of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 at the side surface 101b1 has such a structure as shown in Figs. 3 and 4. An external surface of a plate-shaped cover body 401 is provided with a recess portion 402 to which the circuit board 500 is fitted. A bottom wall of the recess portion 402 is provided with two openings 403 (through holes) from which the bent pieces (protruded portions) 254 of the terminal plates 250 are exposed Pins 406 and 407 for positioning the circuit board 500 are protruded from the bottom wall of the recess portion 402. An internal surface of the cover body 401 is provided with a spring support portion 409 defining a semi-cylindrical surface for laterally supporting an outer peripheral surface of the spring 300. A pair of engagement arms (protruded engagement portions) 405 are protruded from the internal surface of the cover body 401 for engagement with predetermined parts (engagement recess portions) in the sensor accommodating recess portion 110. The engagement arms 405 are provided in such positions as to laterally interpose the spring 300 therebetween. In addition, the cover 400 is provided with positioning holes 411 and 412 to which a pair of upper and lower positioning pins 101p and 101p protruded from a peripheral wall of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 are fitted.
  • Moreover, the circuit board 500 has contacts 501A and 501B formed on external and internal surfaces of an insulating board 501 having such a size as to be exactly fitted to the recess portion 402 of the cover body 401. If necessary, the circuit board 500 may be provided with an electronic circuit (not shown) including an electronic component such as a memory M as in the present embodiment. The insulating board 501 is provided with a notch 506 and a hole 507 which are to be engaged with the positioning pins 406 and 407 on the cover 400.
  • In this case, each of the inside contacts 501B exposed from an internal surface of the circuit board 500 is brought into contact with and electrically conducted to corresponding one of the bent pieces 254 of the terminal plates 250 of the sensor unit 200 when the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 is closed with the cover member 150. Each of the outside contacts 501A is electrically conducted directly or through the electronic circuit to corresponding one of the inside contact 501B, and serves to carry out an electrical connection with an external apparatus.
  • The cover member 150 constituted by the cover 400 and the circuit board 500 is attached to the cartridge case 101 with the sensor unit 200 and the spring 300 accommodated in the sensor accommodating recess portion 110, and in that state, the contacts 501A provided on the external surface of the circuit board 500 are conducted to the terminal plates 250.
  • Next, description will be given to a detecting principle of the ink by the sensor unit 200.
  • When the ink in the ink cartridge 101 is consumed, the stored ink passes through the sensor cavity 232 of the sensor unit 200 and is fed from the ink feeding portion 103 to the recording head 12 of the ink jet type recording apparatus.
  • In this case, in a stage in which the ink is sufficiently left in the ink cartridge 100, the sensor cavity 232 is filled with the ink. On the other hand, when the amount of the residual ink in the ink cartridge 100 is decreased, the ink is not present in the sensor cavity 232.
  • Therefore, the sensor unit 200 detects a difference in an acoustic impedance which is caused by a change in this state. Consequently, it is possible to detect whether the ink is sufficiently left or the ink is consumed in a certain amount or more and the residual amount is decreased.
  • More specifically, when a voltage is applied to the piezoelectric unit 234, the oscillating plate 233 is deformed with a deformation of the piezoelectric unit 234. When the piezoelectric unit 234 is forcibly deformed and the application of the voltage is then released, a flexural oscillation remains in the oscillating plate 233 for a while. The residual oscillation is a free oscillation of the oscillating plate 233 and a medium in the cavity 232. By setting the voltage to be applied to the piezoelectric unit 234 to have a pulse waveform or a rectangular wave, accordingly, it is possible to easily obtain a resonant condition of the oscillating plate 233 and the medium after the application of the voltage.
  • The residual oscillation is generated from the oscillating plate 233 and deforms the piezoelectric unit 234. For this reason, the piezoelectric unit 234 generates a back electromotive force with the residual oscillation. The back electromotive force is detected by an external apparatus through the terminal plate 250.
  • By the back electromotive force thus detected, it is possible to specify a resonant frequency. Therefore, it is possible to detect the presence or absence of the ink in the ink cartridge 100 based on the resonant frequency.
  • The liquid container 100 according to the present embodiment has: the outer electrode 501A contactable with the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus; the electrode supporting member 150 which supports the outer electrode 501A and is fixed to the container body 101; the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 which is discrete from the electrode supporting member 150, which is attached to the container body 101 for detecting the liquid existing in a part of the liquid supply path and which includes the piezoelectric element 220 having the electrode 235,236; and the connector 250 which has an elasticity and which electrically connects the outer electrode 501A to the electrode 235,236 of the piezoelectric element 220.
  • The electrode supporting member 150 supporting the outer electrode 501A is discrete from the piezoelectric sensor unit 200, and the outer electrodes 501A and the electrode 235,236 of the piezoelectric element 220 of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 are electrically connected to each other by the connector 250 having the elasticity. Since the electrode supporting member 150 is discrete from the piezoelectric sensor unit 200, an external force received by the outer electrode 501A from the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus is not directly transmitted to the piezoelectric sensor unit 200, and therefore it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 200, in particular, the piezoelectric element 220 which is a precision equipment, from the external force. Further, an output signal of the piezoelectric element 220 is significantly influenced by a fixing state of the piezoelectric element 220. By adopting such a structure that the external force cannot be directly transmitted to the piezoelectric element 220, the output characteristics of the piezoelectric element 220 can be maintained. Although the circuit board 500 and the cover 400 are used as the electrode supporting member in the present embodiment, the electrode supporting member should not be restricted to this arrangement. For example, the circuit board 500 alone may be used as the electrode supporting member, that is, the circuit board 500 may be directly fixed to the container body 101. Alternatively, the outer electrode 501A may be provided on the cover 400 (in this case, the electrode supporting member can be constructed by the cover 400 alone).
  • Since the outer electrode 501A and the electrode 235,236 of the piezoelectric element 220 are electrically connected to each other by the connector 250 having the elasticity, the connector 250 can use its elasticity to absorb the external force received by the outer electrode 501A. Further, even if the external force is applied to the outer electrode 501A, the connector 250 can use its elasticity to maintain the electrical connection between the outer electrode 501A and the electrode 235,236 of the piezoelectric element 220. Although the terminal plate 250 is used as the connector in the present embodiment, the connector should not be restricted thereto. For example, the outer electrode 501A may be electrically connected to the electrode 235,236 of the piezoelectric element 220 by an electric wire having an elasticity, an FPC, or the like.
  • The outer electrode 501A and the electrode supporting member 150 supporting the outer electrode 501A are directly contacted by the liquid consuming apparatus when the liquid container is mounted to and removed from the liquid consuming apparatus. In contrast, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is not directly contacted by the liquid consuming apparatus or has a low possibility of being directly contacted by the liquid consuming apparatus although it depends on a location where the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is attached to the container body 101. Further, the electrode supporting member 150 including the outer electrode 501A and the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 including the piezoelectric element 220 are at least in part formed of different material. Furthermore, a process for checking the performance of the electrode supporting member 150 including the outer electrode 501A is different from a process for checking the performance of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 including the piezoelectric element 220. Since the electrode supporting member 150 including the outer electrode 501A is discrete from the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 including the piezoelectric element 220, the liquid container used by a user and collected from the user can be efficiently subjected to a recycling process.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is discrete from the electrode supporting member 150. The position where the electrode supporting member 150 is disposed on the container body 101 is restricted in relation to the position of the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, but the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be attached to any desired position of the container body 101 as far as the piezoelectric element 220 of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is electrically connected to the outer electrode 501A supported by the electrode supporting member 150. That is to say, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be disposed at a position where it can be protected from ink mist and dust.
  • The liquid container 100 according to the present embodiment has: the deformable seal member 270 disposed between the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 and the wall 120 of the container body 101; and the urging member 300 that urges the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 toward the wall 120 of the container body 101. The piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is attached to the container body 101 through the seal member 270 and the urging member 300.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is attached to the container body 101 through the seal member 270 and the urging member 300, an external force and an impact applied to the container body 101 are absorbed by the seal member 270 and the urging member 300 and therefore are not directly transmitted to the piezoelectric sensor unit 200. Accordingly, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 200, in particular, the piezoelectric element 220.
  • Since it is possible to finely adjust the position of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 using the elastic force of the seal member 270 and the urging force of the urging member 300, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be disposed at a position where the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can exhibit an intended performance, depending on an individual performance difference of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200. Further, in recycling, it is possible to easily remove the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 from the container body 101. Moreover, it is possible to elastically support the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 to the container body 101 using the seal member 270 disposed between the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 and the wall 120 of the container body 101 for fluid communication with the liquid supply path.
  • Although the compression coil spring 300 is used as the urging member in the present embodiment, the urging member should not be restricted thereto. A plate spring, a rubber member, a tensile spring or the like can be used as the urging member. The seal member 270 should not be restricted to the illustrated structure, configuration or the like.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the connector 250 is elastically deformable in a direction DD (see Figs. 3 and 4) substantially perpendicular to a direction UD (see Figs. 3, 7, 10 and 11) in which the urging member 300 urges the piezoelectric sensor unit 200.
  • Since the urging direction UD in which the urging member 300 and the seal member 270 elastically support the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 to the container body 101 is substantially perpendicular to the deformable direction DD of the connector 250, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be elastically supported to the container body 101 stably.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the outer electrode 501A receives a force from the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus in a first direction FD (see Figs. 2, 3 and 10) when the outer electrode 501A contacts the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, the connector 250 is elastically deformable in a second direction DD, and the first direction FD is substantially parallel to the second direction DD.
  • Since the deformable direction DD of the connector 250 and the force direction FD in which the outer electrode 501A receives the external force are substantially parallel to each other, it is possible to efficiently absorb the external force by the connector 250. Accordingly, the external force does not directly act on the piezoelectric sensor unit 200. The electrical connection between the connector 250 and the outer electrode 501A does not affected by the presence or absence of the external force and can be maintained reliably.
  • The liquid container according to the present embodiment has: the deformable seal member 270 disposed between the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 and a wall 120 of the container body 101; and the urging member 300 that urges the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 toward the wall 120 of the container body 101 in a third direction UD substantially perpendicular to the second direction DD. The piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is attached to the container body through the seal member 270 and the urging member 120.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is attached to the container body 101 through the seal member 270 and the urging member 300, an external force and an impact applied to the container body 101 are absorbed by the seal member 270 and the urging member 300 and therefore are not directly transmitted to the piezoelectric sensor unit 200. Accordingly, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 200, in particular, the piezoelectric element 220.
  • Since it is possible to finely adjust the position of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 relative of the wall 120 of the container body 101 using the elastic force of the seal member 270 and the urging force of the urging member 300, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be disposed at a position where the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can exhibit an intended performance, depending on an individual performance difference of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200. Further, in recycling, it is possible to easily remove the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 from the container body 101. Moreover, it is possible to elastically support the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 to the container body 101 using the seal member 270 disposed between the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 and the wall 120 of the container body for fluid communication with the liquid supply path.
  • Since the urging direction UD in which the urging member 300 and the seal member 270 elastically support the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 to the container body 101 is substantially perpendicular to the deformable direction DD of the connector 250, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be elastically supported to the container body 101 stably.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the container body 101 has a recess 110 for accommodating the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 therein, and the electrode supporting member 150 closes an opening of the recess 110.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is disposed in a closed space formed by the recess 110 of the container body 101 and the electrode supporting member 150, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be protected from ink mist, dust and external force.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the container body 101 includes a first wall 101b1 and an opposite, second wall 101b2, the liquid supply port is disposed at an offset position closer to the first wall 101b1 than to the second wall 101b2, and the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is disposed at an offset portion closer to the first wall 101bl than to the second wall 101b2.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be disposed close to the liquid supply port. In general, a portion of the container body 101, which is close to the liquid supply port, has a high rigidity. Accordingly, by disposing the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 at such a high rigidity portion of the container body 101, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 and to install the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 stably.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is disposed between the liquid supply port and the first wall 101b1 in a horizontal direction Dh (see Fig. 2) in which the first wall 101b1 and the second wall 101b2 are opposed to each other.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be disposed at a higher rigidity portion of the container body 101.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the container body 101 includes a top wall 101c and a bottom wall 101d having the ink supply port, and the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is disposed at an offset position closer to the bottom wall 101d than to the top wall 101c.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be disposed at a higher rigidity portion of the container body 101.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is accommodated in a recess 110 of the container body 101.
  • Since the location where the piezoelectric sensor 200 is disposed is the higher rigidity portion of the container body 101, a necessary and sufficient rigidity of that portion of the container body 101 can be secured even if the recess 110, which may lower the rigidity, is formed in the container body 101. Therefore, the recess 110 is formed in the container body 101 and the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is accommodated in the recess 110. Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be disposed inside the container body 101, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 from ink mist, dust and external force.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, an opening of the recess 110 is closed by the electrode supporting member 150 fixed to the first wall 101b1.
  • Since the electrode supporting member 150 serves as a reinforcing member for the portion of the container body 101 where the recess 110 is formed, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 can be disposed at a higher rigidity portion of the container body.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is disposed in a closed space formed by the recess 110 of the container body 101 and the electrode supporting member 150, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 from ink mist, dust and external force.
  • The liquid container according to the present embodiment has an inner electrode 501B which is electrically connected to the outer electrode 501A and which is supported by the electrode supporting member 150. The connector 250 contacts the inner electrode 501B for electrical connection to the outer electrode 501A.
  • When the liquid container 100 is mounted to and removed from the liquid consuming apparatus, the outer electrode 501A is subjected to sliding contact by the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus. Since the connector 250 contacts the inner electrode 501B, different from the outer electrode 501A, to be electrically connected to the outer electrode 501A, the contact portion of the connector 250 is not subjected to the sliding contact by the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus. Accordingly, the electrical connection between the connector 250 and the outer electrode 501A is free from the sliding contact of the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, to thereby establish a reliable electrical connection.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the connector 250 includes an elastic terminal plate 250, the elastic terminal plate 250 is attached to the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 and electrically connected to the electrode 235,236 of the piezoelectric element 220, and the elastic terminal plate 250 contacts the inner electrode 501B for electrical connection between the outer electrode 501A and the electrode 235,236 of the piezoelectric element 220.
  • Since the elastic terminal plate 250 is attached to the piezoelectric sensor unit 200, the elastic terminal plate 250 can also be handled as one of unit components of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200. That is, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 including the elastic terminal plate 250 can be attached to and removed from the container body 101 as one unit. Accordingly, it is possible to enhance the manufacturing process efficiency and the recycling process efficiency.
  • The contact of the elastic terminal plate 250 with the inner electrode 501B can establish the electrical connection between the outer electrode 501A and the electrode 235,236 of the piezoelectric element 220. Therefore, since the electrode supporting member 150 having the outer electrode 501A and the inner electrode 501B can be discrete from the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 having the piezoelectric element 220 and the elastic terminal plate 250, it is possible to enhance the manufacturing process efficiency and the recycling process efficiency.
  • Since the elastic terminal plate 250 can be positively contacted with the inner electrode 501B using the elasticity of the elastic terminal plate 250, the elastic terminal plate 250 can be electrically connected to the inner electrode 501B with high reliability.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the elastic terminal plate 250 is displaceable relative to the inner electrode 501B while maintaining contact with the inner electrode 501B.
  • The contact of the elastic terminal plate 250 with the inner electrode 501B, i.e. the electrical connection, can be reliably secured even if the relative position of the elastic terminal plate 250 to the inner electrode 501B is more or less shifted. It is also possible to make it easy to manage the dimensional precision of component parts and assembly precision of the component parts during manufacture and recycle.
  • This arrangement is advantageous also in the case in which the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is elastically supported to the container body 101. That is, even if the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is more or less shifted relative to the electrode supporting member 150 in the direction DD, the direction UD and a direction perpendicular to these directions DD and UD, it is possible to maintain the contact of the elastic terminal plate 250 with the inner electrode 501B by simply changing the contact position of the elastic terminal plate 250 with the inner electrode 501B correspondingly.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the electrode supporting member 150 includes a circuit board 500 that has a first surface on which the outer electrode 501A is formed and an opposite, second surface on which the inner electrode 501B is formed, and the circuit board 500 is fixed to the container body 101 so that the second surface is located between the first surface and the piezoelectric sensor unit 200.
  • Since the electrode supporting member is constructed by the circuit board 500, the outer electrode 501A and the inner electrode 501B can be formed easily, for example, by a conductor printing technology.
  • The outer electrode 501A is formed on the first surface (front surface) of the circuit board 500 and the inner electrode 501B is formed on the second surface (back surface) of the circuit board 500. Therefore, since a side in which the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus contacts the outer electrode 501A and a side in which the terminal plate 250 contacts the inner electrode 501B can be surely partitioned one from the other by the circuit board 500, the contact portion between the terminal plate 250 and the inner electrode 501B is not subjected to the sliding contact by the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is also disposed in the side in which the terminal plate 250 contacts the inner electrode 501B, the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is also free from the sliding contact by the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • By fixing the circuit board 500 to the container body 101 such that the terminal plate 250 pressure-contacts the inner electrode 501B of the second surface using the elasticity of the terminal plate 250, it is possible to easily establish the electrical connection between the outer electrode 501A and the electrode 235,236 of the piezoelectric element 220.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the electrode supporting member 150 further includes a circuit board supporting member 400 that supports the circuit board 500, and the circuit board 500 is fixed to the container body 101 through the circuit board supporting member 400.
  • For example, it is possible to fix the circuit board 500 to the circuit board supporting member 400 before the circuit board supporting member 400 is fixed to the container body 101. In this case, since the circuit board 500 is fixed to the circuit board supporting member 400, it is possible to easily handle the circuit board 500 and protect the circuit board 500.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the circuit board supporting member 400 has a through-hole 403 into which a protruded portion 254 of the elastic terminal plate 250 is inserted for contact with the inner electrode 501B of the circuit board 500.
  • Even in a case in which the circuit board supporting member 400 is interposed between the circuit board 500 and the sensor unit 200, the terminal plate 250 can be easily brought into contact the inner electrode 501B using the through hole 403.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, a clearance is provided between the through-hole 403 and the protruded portion 254 so that the protruded portion 254 is displaceable relative to the through-hole 403 without contacting with the through-hole 403.
  • The through-hole 403 can permit the change of the contact position of the elastic terminal plate 250 with the inner electrode 501B.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the through-hole 403 is covered by the circuit board 500.
  • It is possible to prevent ink mist and dust from passing through the through hole 403 to reach the contact portion between the inner electrode 501B and the elastic terminal plate 250 and the piezoelectric sensor unit 200.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the circuit board supporting member 400 has a protruded engagement portion 405, and the container body 101 has a mating engagement recess portion for engagement with the protruded engagement portion 405 when the circuit board supporting member 400 is disposed in place with respect to the container body 101.
  • The circuit board supporting member 400 can be fixed to the container body 101 by the engagement between the protruded engagement portion 405 and the engagement recess portion. In particular, in a case in which the circuit board 500 is fixed to the circuit board supporting member 400 before the circuit board supporting member 400 is fixed to the container body 101, the circuit board supporting member 400 having the circuit board 500 can be fixed to the container body 101 by the engagement between the protruded engagement portion 405 and the engagement recess portion. The circuit board supporting member 400 having the circuit board 500 can be removed from the container body 101 by disengaging the protruded engagement portion 405 from the engagement recess portion. Accordingly, this arrangement can enhance the workability, for example, when a fine adjustment for the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 (such as a fine adjustment for the position of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 relative to the container body 101) or an exchange of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is required after the circuit board 500 is fixed to the container body 101.
  • The liquid container according to the present embodiment has a memory M mounted to the second surface (back surface) of the circuit board 500, and a memory electrode 501M electrically connected to the memory M and formed on the first surface (front surface) of the circuit board 500.
  • Various information relating the liquid consuming apparatus and the liquid container can be stored in the circuit board 500 using the memory M.
  • Since the memory M is mounted to the second surface (back surface) of the circuit board 500 similarly to the inner electrode 501B, it is possible to protect the memory M.
  • Since the memory electrode 501M slidingly contacted by the electrode of the liquid consuming apparatus is formed on the first surface (front surface), the contact portion between the terminal plate 250 and the inner electrode 501B is not subjected to the sliding contact by the electrode of the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • The circuit board 500 according to the present embodiment has: a board main body 501; a pair of first electrodes 501A for contact with and electrical connection to the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, the first electrodes 501A being formed on a first surface (front surface) of the board main body 501; and a pair of second electrodes 501B for contact with and electrical connection to the terminal plates 250 of the sensor unit 200, the second electrodes 501B being formed on an opposite, second surface (back surface) of the board main body 501 and electrically connected respectively to the first electrodes 501A.
  • The pair of the electrodes 501A for contact with and electrical connection to the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus are formed on the first surface (front surface) of the board main body 501, and the pair of the electrodes 501B for contact with and electrical connection to the terminal plates 250 of the sensor unit 200 are formed on the opposite, second surface (back surface) of the board main body 501. Accordingly, since a side in which the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus contact the first electrodes 501A, and a side in which the terminal plates 250 contact the second electrodes 501B can be surely partitioned one from the other by the board main body 501, the contact portions between the terminal plates 250 and the second electrodes 501B are not subjected to the sliding contact by the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, each of the first electrodes 501A has an inner edge and an outer edge. That is, as shown in Fig. 3, the right-side first electrode 501AR has an inner edge 501ARIE and an outer edge 501AROE. The left-side first electrode 501AL has an inner edge 501ALIE and an outer edge 501ALOE.
  • Each of the second electrodes 501B has an inner edge and an outer edge. That is, as shown in Fig. 4, the right-side second electrode 501BR, as viewed from the front surface, has an inner edge 501BRIE and an outer edge 501BROE. The left-side second electrode 501BL has an inner edge 501BLIE and an outer edge 501BLOE.
  • A distance D-AIE between the inner edge 501ARIE of one 501AR of the first electrodes and the inner edge 501ALIE of the other 501AL of the first electrodes is smaller than the first center-to-center distance D-CLU (see Fig. 23). The first center-to-center distance D-CLU is a distance between center lines of the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c respectively contacted by the electrodes 501AR and 501AL. In the present embodiment, the electrodes 501AR and 501AL respectively contact the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c in an upper electrode row.
  • A distance D-AOE between the outer edge 501AROE of one 501AR of the first electrodes and the outer edge 501ALOE of the other 501AL of the first electrodes is larger than the first center-to-center distance D-CLU.
  • A distance D-BIE between the inner edge 501BRIE of one 501BR of the second electrodes and the inner edge 501BLIE of the other 501BL of the second electrodes is smaller than the second center-to-center distance D-CLT. The second center-to-center distance D-CLT (see Fig. 5) is a distance between center lines of the sensor unit terminal plates 250 respectively contacted by the electrodes 501BR and 501BL.
  • A distance D-BOE between the outer edge 501BROE of one 501BR of the second electrodes and the outer edge 501BLOE of the other 501BL of the second electrodes is larger than the second center-to-center distance D-CLT.
  • By this arrangement, the contact between the first electrodes 501A and the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c, and thus the electrical connection therebetween, can be made reliable even if the relative positions of the first electrodes 501A to the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c are more or less shifted. By this arrangement, the contact between the second electrodes 501B and the terminal plates 250, and thus the electrical connection therebetween, can be made reliable even if the relative positions of the second electrodes 501B to the terminal plates 250 are more or less shifted.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, the board main body 501 has a center line CL-500, and the first electrodes 501AR, 501AL are located symmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL-500.
  • In general, in a case in which the liquid container 100 is mounted to the liquid consuming apparatus, a center line CL-sp of the liquid supply port is one of important elements from the viewpoint of properly positioning the liquid container relative to the liquid consuming apparatus. For this reason, in a case in which the circuit board 500 is provided to the liquid container 100, the circuit board 500 is fixed to the liquid container 100 such that the center line CL-500 of the board main body 501 is coincident with the center line CL-sp of the liquid supply port as viewed in a direction perpendicular to the surface (front surface, back surface) of the circuit board 500. Accordingly, by disposing the first electrodes 501AR, 501AL symmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL-500 of the board main body 501, it is possible to properly and accurately position the first electrodes 501AR, 501AL relative to the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c.
  • The circuit board according to the present embodiment has a first positioning through-hole 507 or notch 506 located on the center line CL-500, and a second positioning through-hole 507 notch 506 located on the center line CL-500.
  • By this arrangement, the circuit board 500 can be accurately positioned relative to the liquid container 100.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, the second electrodes 501BR, 501BL are located asymmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL-500, and a distance D-BR (D-BL) between the inner and outer edges 501BRIE, 501BROE (501BLIE, 501BLOE) of each of the second electrodes 501BR (501BL) is larger than a distance D-AR (D-AL) between the inner and outer edges 501ARIE, 501AROE (501ALIE, 501ARIE) of each of the first electrodes 501AR (501AL).
  • Although it is also preferable to dispose the terminal plates 250 of the sensor unit 200 symmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL-500 of the board main body 501 as viewed in a direction perpendicular to the surface (front surface, back surface) of the circuit board 500, there is a case in which the terminal plates 250 cannot be disposed symmetrically with respect to the center line CL-500 in relation to a space limitation of the liquid container 100, another member (a side cover 102 in the present embodiment) of the liquid container 100, or the like. In such a case, the second electrodes 501BR, 501BL can be disposed asymmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL-500 to correspond to the locations of the terminal plates 250. In such a case, it is preferable to make larger the width of the second electrodes 501BR, 501BL, i.e. the distance D-BR, D-BL, to provide a more reliable electric connection between the second electrode 501BR, 501BL and the terminal plate 250.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, the first electrodes 501A are electrically connected to the second electrodes 501B though printed conductors PC formed on the first surface, an inner circumferential wall of a through-hole TH of the board main body and the second surface (see Figs. 17A and 17B).
  • The electrical connection between the first electrode 501A and the second electrode 501B can be readily achieved by a conductor printing technology. The use of the inner circumferential wall of the through hole TH of the board main body 501 can shorten the length of the printed conductor PC required for electrical connection between the first electrode 501A and the second electrode 501B. In particular, since the first electrode 501A and the second electrode 501B are electrically connected to the terminal plate 250 of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200, signals transmitted between the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 and the liquid consuming apparatus through the first electrode 501A and the second electrode 501B are analog signals. Therefore, by shortening the length of the printed conductor PC, it is possible to prevent noise from superimposing onto the analog signals.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, one 501AR (501AL) of the first electrodes 501A, which is electrically connected to corresponding one 501BR (501BL) of the second electrodes 501B, is at least in part overlapped with the corresponding one 501BR (501BL) of the second electrodes 501B as viewed in a direction perpendicular to the first and second surfaces.
  • By this arrangement, it is possible to shorten the connection length between the first electrode 501AR (501AL) and the corresponding second electrode 501BR (501BL).
  • The circuit board according to the present embodiment has a memory M mounted to the second surface of the board main body, and third electrodes 501M formed on the first surface of the board main body and electrically connected to the memory M. The first electrodes 501A and the third electrodes 501M are arrayed in a first row, and the first electrodes 501A are respectively disposed at outermost ends of the row.
  • In a case in which liquid container electrodes contacted by liquid consuming apparatus electrodes when the liquid container is mounted to the liquid consuming apparatus are arrayed in an electrode row (in the present embodiment, the first electrodes 501A and the third electrodes 501M are arrayed in an upper row), the outermost electrodes in the electrode row have the highest possibility of being shifted relative to the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes. In other words, if the outermost electrodes in the electrode row are properly positioned relative to the corresponding liquid consuming apparatus electrodes, then the electrodes inside the outermost electrodes in the electrode row are properly positioned surely relative to the corresponding liquid consuming apparatus electrodes.
  • When the liquid container is mounted to the liquid consuming apparatus, the liquid consuming apparatus, at first, detects whether or not the liquid container accommodates the liquid therein. In a case in which the liquid container accommodates the liquid therein, the liquid consuming apparatus, next, accesses to the memory to obtain various information from the memory. Therefore, the liquid consuming apparatus accesses, at first, the first electrode 501A and then the third electrode 501M.
  • In view of these points, it is advantageous to dispose the first electrodes 501A at the outermost ends of the row as follows:
  • In a case in which the liquid consuming apparatus tries to access the first electrodes 501A but cannot access the first electrodes 501A, the liquid consuming apparatus can determine that liquid container is not properly positioned relative to the liquid consuming apparatus. Consequently, the liquid consuming apparatus, without accessing the memory, can inform a user of a fact that the liquid container is not properly positioned and can promote the user to re-mount the liquid container. It is also possible to prevent the damage of the memory caused by the improper access to the memory.
  • A case in which the liquid consuming apparatus can access the first electrodes 501A located at the outermost ends of the electrode row means that the third electrodes 501M located inside the first electrodes 501A are also positioned properly, and therefore if the liquid consuming apparatus is arranged to access the third electrodes 501M after the liquid consuming apparatus has accessed the first electrodes 501A, it is possible to prevent the damage of the memory caused by the improper access to the memory. In other words, by disposing the first electrodes 501A at the outermost ends of the electrode row, it is possible not only to detect whether or not the liquid exists in the liquid container but also to detect whether or not the liquid container is properly positioned relative to the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • The voltage applied to the first electrodes 501A electrically connected to the terminal plates 250 of the piezoelectric sensor unit 200 is higher than the voltage applied to the third electrode 501M electrically connected to the memory M. Therefore, disposing the first electrodes 501AR, 501AL at the outermost ends of the electrode row (i.e. making longer a distance between the first electrodes 501AR, 501AL and a distance between the second electrodes 501BR, 501BL) is also advantageous from a viewpoint of preventing a short-circuit between the first electrodes 501AR, 501AL and between the second electrodes 501BR, 501BL.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, each of the second electrodes is larger in area than each of the first electrodes.
  • The contact between the second electrode 501B and the terminal plate 250 of the sensor unit 200, i.e. the electrical connection therebetween, can be made more reliable by effectively using a space of the second surface (back surface) of the board main body 501.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, the first and third electrodes have a same shape and size.
  • It is possible to increase the positioning accuracy of the first and third electrodes 501A, 501M relative to the electrodes of the liquid consuming apparatus. Since the electrodes of the liquid consuming apparatus, which respectively contact the first and third electrodes 501A, 501M can be made to have a same shape and size, it is possible to decrease manufacturing cost.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, the first and third electrodes are arrayed at a same pitch.
  • It is possible to increase the positioning accuracy of the first and third electrodes 501A, 501M relative to the electrodes of the liquid consuming apparatus. Since the electrodes of the liquid consuming apparatus, which respectively contact the first and third electrodes 501A, 501M can be arrayed at the same pitch, it is possible to decrease manufacturing cost.
  • The circuit board 500 according to the present embodiment has: a board main body 501; a pair of first electrodes 501A for electrical connection to the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, the first electrodes 501A being formed on a first surface of the board main body; a pair of second electrodes 501B for electrical connection to the terminal plates 250 of the sensor unit 200, the second electrodes 501B being formed on an opposite, second surface of the board main body 501 and electrically connected respectively to the first electrodes 501A; a memory M mounted to the second surface of the board main body 501; and third electrodes 501M formed on the first surface of the board main body 501 and electrically connected to the memory M. The first electrodes 501A and the third electrodes 501M are arrayed in a first row, and the first electrodes 501A are respectively disposed at outermost ends of the row.
  • The pair of the electrodes 501A for electrical connection to the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus are formed on the first surface (front surface) of the board main body 501, and the pair of the electrodes 501B for electrical connection to the terminal plates 250 of the sensor unit 200 are formed on the opposite, second surface (back surface) of the board main body 501. Accordingly, since a side in which the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus are electrically connected to the first electrodes 501A, and a side in which the terminal plates 250 are electrically connected to the second electrodes 501B can be surely partitioned one from the other by the board main body 501, the electrical connection between the terminal plates 250 and the second electrodes 501B are not adversely affected by the electrical connection between the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus and the first electrodes 501A
  • By disposing the first electrodes 501A at the outermost ends of the electrode row, it is possible not only to detect whether or not the liquid exists in the liquid container but also to detect whether or not the liquid container is properly positioned relative to the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • It is also advantageous to dispose the first electrodes 501A at the outermost ends of the electrode row from a viewpoint of preventing a short-circuit between the first electrodes 501A and between the second electrodes 501B.
  • According to the present embodiment, since the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 for accommodating the sensor unit 200 is reliably covered (sealed, if necessary) with the cover member 150, the sensor unit 200 provided therein can be protected so that a reliability and a safety can be enhanced. In particular, the invasion of an ink mist (liquid mist) into the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 can be prevented by the cover member 150. Therefore, it is possible to eliminate a possibility that the ink mist might stick to the piezoelectric unit 234. Moreover, an outside air current does not enter the sensor accommodating recess portion 110. Therefore, it is possible to detect the amount of the residual ink without the influence of a turbulence of the air current.
  • Also in the case in which the ink cartridge 100 is dropped, moreover, the sensor unit 200 can be prevented from being directly shocked. Consequently, it is possible to protect the fine piezoelectric unit 234 and the peripheral structure thereof. Moreover, the contact 501A conducted to the terminal plate 250 on the sensor unit 200 side is provided on the external surface of the cover member 150.. Therefore, it is possible to easily carry out an electrical connection between the sensor unit 200 and the apparatus through the contact 501A.
  • Furthermore, a part of the cover member 150 is constituted by the circuit board 500. By simply providing the contacts 501A and 501B on the circuit board 500, therefore, it is possible to easily carry out the electrical connection of the sensor unit 200 to the apparatus. In addition, it is also possible to easily mount a proper electronic component, for example, a memory on the circuit board 500. Consequently, it is also possible to record information about the ink cartridge 100 and information about the ink.
  • Moreover, the circuit board 500 is fabricated separately from the cover 400 and can be freely attached to the cover 400 later. Therefore, only the cover 400 can be a common component and the circuit board 500 can also be provided as an individual component which can be exchanged depending on specifications.
  • Furthermore, it is possible to support the spring 300 by means of the spring support portion 409 and/or the engagement arms 405 which are provided on an internal surface of the cover 400. Consequently, it is possible to prevent the spring 300 from being shifted and to easily assemble the spring 300.
  • In the embodiment, moreover, the spring 300 and the sensor unit 200 are arranged in the direction of the height of the cartridge case 101 taking the shape of a rectangular parallelepiped (an orthogonal direction to the top face 101c and the bottom face 101d) and are thus assembled. Therefore, a reaction force of the spring 300 can be received by a wall surface in the direction of the height of the cartridge case 101 (an upper wall surface of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110). Usually, the cartridge case 101 has a great dimension in the direction of the height. Also in the case in which the spring force of the spring 300 is increased, therefore, it is possible to receive the force of the spring 300 with a strength having a margin by means of the wall surface in the direction of the height (the upper wall surface of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110).
  • In addition, an insertion opening 110h of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 is provided on the side surface 101b having a small width in the cartridge case 101 and the cover member 150 having the contact 501A on the external surface is disposed thereon. Therefore, it is possible to carry out the electrical connection to the apparatus by the contact 501A present on the side surface 101b having a small width. When a large number of cartridge cases 101 are arranged to be compact as a whole, the cartridge cases 101 are arrayed such that the great width side surfaces 101a of the cartridge cases 101 are adjacent to one another. In this case, all of the contacts 501A on the small width side surfaces 101b of the cartridge cases 101 can be arranged to face the apparatus so that the connection to the apparatus can easily be carried out.
  • According to the embodiment, by simply incorporating the sensor base 220 mounting the sensor chip 230 into the unit base 210 from above and sticking the adhesive film 240 across upper surfaces of two components which are arranged, that is, both of the upper surfaces of the sensor base 220 and the unit base 210 in that state, it is possible to fix and seal the two components formed by different materials (the sensor base 220 formed of a metal and the unit base 210 formed of a resin) at the same time. Accordingly, an assembling workability is very excellent. Moreover, the adhesive film 240 is simply stuck across the two components. Therefore, it is possible to seal the components without a great influence of precision in the dimension of each of the components. In the case in which the adhesive film 240 is to be welded by heating and pressurizing through a mass-produced machine, for example, it is possible to enhance a sealing performance by simply managing a temperature and a pressure through the mass-produced machine. Therefore, it is possible to easily achieve a stabilization in the mass production. Furthermore, the adhesive film 240 to influence the sealing property can easily be attached, and furthermore, a space efficiency is high. Therefore, it is possible to reduce the size of the sensor unit 200.
  • Moreover, there is employed a structure in which the inlet side passages 212 and 222 and the outlet side passages 213 and 223 for the sensor cavity 232 are formed in the unit base 210 and the sensor base 220respectively and the ink flows into the sensor cavity 232 through the inlet side passages 212 and 222 and is discharged through the outlet side passages 223 and 213. Therefore, the ink persistently flows to the sensor cavity 232. Consequently, it is possible to prevent an erroneous detection from being caused by the stay of the liquid or air bubbles in the sensor cavity 232.
  • Furthermore, the height of the bonding surface of the adhesive film 240 to the unit base 210 is set to be smaller than that of the bonding surface to the sensor base 220. Therefore, it is possible to press the sensor base 220 with a step by means of the adhesive film 240 and to increase a fixing force of the sensor base 220 to the unit base 210. Moreover, it is possible to carry out an attachment having no looseness.
  • In addition, the sensor unit 200 is disposed in the vicinity of the termination of the feeding path in the cartridge case 101, and the inlet side passages 212 and 222, the sensor cavity 232 and the outlet side passages 223 and 213 in the sensor unit 200 are provided in series in the feeding passage so as to be arranged from the upstream side in this order. Therefore, it is possible to accurately detect the amount of the residual liquid in the ink cartridge 100.
  • While the description has been given to the case of the structure in which the sensor receiving wall 120 is provided on the lower side of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 and the two sensor buffer chambers 122 and 123 opened on the lower surface of the cartridge case 101 are provided on the lower side thereof, and the spring 300 and the sensor unit 200 are vertically arranged and disposed in the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 in such a manner that the pressurizing direction of the spring 300 acts downward toward the sensor receiving wall 120 in the embodiment, a structure of an ink cartridge 100B shown in Figs. 10 to 12 may be employed.
  • More specifically, in the ink cartridge 100B according to the second embodiment, a sensor accommodating recess portion 110 is provided to a small-width side surface 101b1 of a cartridge case 101B constituted to take the same external shape as that in the embodiment in the same manner. However, a sensor receiving wall 120 is provided at a lateral side, that is, a great-width side surface 101a side not the lower side, of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110. Two sensor buffer chambers 122 and 123 are provided at the great-width side surface 101a side of the sensor receiving wall 120, and opened at the great-width side surface 101a. A spring 300 and a sensor unit 200 are arranged in a lateral direction which is orthogonal to the great-width side surface 101a, and are disposed in the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 in such a manner that a pressurizing direction of the spring 300 acts laterally toward the sensor receiving wall 120 located at the lateralside.
  • In other words, the sensor buffer chambers 122 and 123 are provided in an orthogonal direction to that in the case according to the first embodiment, and the sensor unit 200 and the spring 300 are correspondingly disposed laterally. Others have the same structures except that the direction is different. Therefore, the same components have the same designations and description will be omitted. In the same manner, an insertion opening 110h of the sensor accommodating recess portion 110 is closed with a cover member 150 constituted by a cover 400 and a circuit board 500.
  • By employing such a structure that the spring 300 and the sensor unit 200 are arranged and incorporated in a direction of a thickness of the cartridge case 101B taking the shape of a rectangular parallelepiped (an orthogonal direction to the great-width side surface 101a), thus, it is possible to reduce a thickness of the cartridge case 101B corresponding to dimensions of the sensor unit 200 and the spring 300. Other advantages are the same as those in the first embodiment.
  • A third embodiment of the present invention will be discussed with reference to the accompanying drawings.
  • Fig. 13 is a perspective view showing an example of a printer (liquid consuming apparatus). The printer 81 as shown in Fig. 13 functions as a recording apparatus which records characters, images, etc. by ejecting ink onto a medium, such as a paper, P.
  • The printer 81 has a carriage 91 that is movable along a shaft 92 in a direction perpendicular to a feeding direction of the medium P, and that is driven by a motor 94 via a belt 93.
  • A carriage 91 removably mounts an ink cartridge (liquid container) 21 thereon, and has a head (not shown) at a position facing the medium P to eject ink supplied from the ink cartridge 21.
  • Fig. 14 is a perspective view showing the ink cartridge (liquid container) 21 according to the third embodiment of the present invention. Fig. 15 is an exploded perspective view showing the ink cartridge 21 according to the third embodiment.
  • The ink cartridge 21 includes a cartridge main body (container body) 31, a sensor (sensor unit) 35 for detecting a depletion of ink in the cartridge main body 31, a cover member 33 to which a circuit board 32 is fixed, and a side cover 34.
  • A sensor accommodating recess portion 31c is formed in a front surface of the cartridge main body 31, and the sensor 35 is disposed in the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c. In the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c, the sensor 35 is placed on a wall of the cartridge main body 31 (a bottom wall of the recess portion 31c), and is urged toward that wall by a restoring force of a spring (urging member) 36. The cover member 33 (board supporting member) 33 having the board (circuit board) 32 fixed thereto is fixed to an open end of the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c so as to cover the sensor 35. The cover member 33 and the board 32 constitute an electrode supporting member in the present embodiment. The side cover 34 for covering a side surface and a part of a bottom surface of the cartridge main body 31 is attached to the cartridge main body 31 by engagement such as snap fit.
  • The detailed structure of these components will be discussed hereinafter.
  • First of all, the cartridge main body 31 will be discussed.
  • As shown in Fig. 15, the cartridge main body 31 has a shape of substantially rectangular parallelepiped, and includes: a lever 31a disposed on a front surface (first wall) 31w1 and used as an operating portion for mounting and removing the ink cartridge 21; and an ink outlet (liquid supply port) 31b formed in a bottom surface (bottom wall 31wb). The container main body 31 further includes an ink accommodating portion (liquid accommodating portion) 61 and a check valve 62 inside the container main body 31 (see Fig. 24). The cartridge main body 31 is formed integrally of resin, and its side surfaces opposed to each other are sealed by films so that ink can be filled in the ink accommodating portion.
  • The sensor accommodating recess portion 31c is formed at a location that is in the front surface of the cartridge main body 31 and that is offset to the bottom surface thereof. The front surface of the cartridge main body 31 has shafts 31d, 31e which are formed just above the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c, and a positioning protrusion (shaft portion) 31f and a semi-cylindrical protruded portion 31g which are formed just below the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c. The shafts 31d, 31e, 31f and the protruded portion 31g are used for fixing the cover member 33.
  • The sensor accommodating recess portion 31c defines a substantially parallelepiped space, and has engagement recess portions 31h respectively formed in its side surface inner walls. The upper surface inner wall of the recess portion 31c is formed with a protruded portion 31i extending in a depth direction of the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c. The rear surface inner wall of the recess portion 31c is formed with a semi-cylindrical recess portion 31j oriented such that the axial direction is coincident with the height direction. The bottom surface inner wall of the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c is formed with a part of the ink flow path (liquid supply path) as shown in Fig. 20. When the cover member 33 is fixed, tip ends of pawls (protruded engagement portions) 33a of the cover member 33 are fitted into the engagement recess portions 31h, respectively. The protruded portion 31i and the recess portion 31j are used for fixing the spring 36.
  • Next, the cover member 33 will be discussed.
  • Fig. 16 is a perspective view showing the board 32 and the cover member 33 shown in Fig. 15.
  • As shown in Figs. 15 and 16, the cover member 33 is formed integrally of resin, and has such a shape that two pawls 33a are protruded from a back surface of a substantially rectangular plate portion in a substantially perpendicular direction. The tip end of each of the two pawls 33a is formed into a slender tapered shape, and has a hook oriented outward. The pawl 33a is disposed at an offset position closer to one end (lower end surface in Fig. 16) of the cover member 33 than to the other end (upper end surface in Fig. 16) thereof. Holes 33b, 33c are formed through the upper end portion of the cover member 33 to extend between the front surface and the back surface. A protrusion 33d is formed on the lower end of the cover member 33 for engagement with a flange portion 34a of the side cover 34. The holes 33b, 33c are used for fixing the cover member 33 to the cartridge main body 31. Of these holes, the hole 33c is used only for positioning, and the two holes 33b are used for thermal caulking or thermal riveting.
  • Thermal caulking or thermal riveting refers to the practice of placing two pieces of thermoplastic material together and then heating and deforming at least one of those pieces of material to join the two pieces together. By way of example, and not limitation, one way of doing this is to provide a first piece having a projection and a second piece having a hole dimensioned to receive the projection, the projection extending through and beyond the hole when the pieces are placed together. The pieces are put together so that the exposed end of the projection extends beyond the hole, and then that exposed end is heated. When pliable, the exposed end is deformed (flattened) to be wider than the hole. The projection cools and becomes inflexible, and cannot be withdrawn back through the hole, so the projection holds the two parts together.
  • The front surface of the cover member 33 is formed with a recess portion 33e1 for accommodating therein the board 32, and a recess portion 33e2 for accommodating therein a protruded portion on the back surface of the board 32. The front surface of the cover member 33 is formed with a protruded portion 33f closer to the upper end and a protruded portion 33g closer to the lower end. The protruded portions 33f, 33g are used for fixing the board 32 to the cover member 33. The protruded portions 33f, 33g are shafts for positioning and thermal caulking, respectively.
  • Insertion holes (through holes) 33h1 are formed to pass through the cover member 33 and extend between the front surface and the back surface. A recess portion 33h2 is formed at back surface side open ends of the two insertion holes 33h1, and an end portion of the sensor 35 is placed at the recess portion 33h2.
  • A hole 33i and a recess portion 33j are formed in the back surface lower end portion of the cover member 33. A semi-cylindrical recess portion 33k is formed between the two pawls 33a and is oriented such that the axial direction is coincident with the height direction. The holes 33i and the recess portion 33j are used for positioning and fixing the cover member 33 to the cartridge main body 31. The recess portion 33k are used as a guide when the spring 33 is fixed. The hole 33i and the recess portion 33j are used only for positioning, and the hole 33i is not used for thermal caulking.
  • Protruded portion 33m are formed at two locations on each side surface of the cover member 33. In other words, four protruded portions 33m in total are formed on the side surfaces of the cover member 33. Accordingly, when the ink cartridge 21 is mounted to the carriage 91, these protruded portions 33m contact the carriage 91 to enhance the positioning accuracy of terminals (terminals 32c, 32d in Fig. 17) on the board 32 fixed to the cover member 33 relative to terminals (contact terminals 91c in Fig. 24) of the carriage 91. Further, since the protruded portions 33m are integrally molded on the cover 33 smaller in size than the cartridge main body 31, it is possible to prevent the positioning accuracy from being lowered due to shrinkage during molding.
  • As described above, the recess portion 33e1 and the protruded portions 33f, 33g are formed on the front surface of the cover member 33 as fixing portions for fixing the board 32, and the two pawls 33a are formed on the opposite, back surface thereof for fitting to the cartridge main body 31. Accordingly, the board 32 is fixed to the cover member 33 so as not to be separated therefrom, and the cover member 33 is fixed to the cartridge main body 31 so as not to be separated therefrom. That is, the cover member 33 serves as a board attaching member for fixing the board 32 to the cartridge main body 31.
  • Next, the board (circuit board) 32 will be discussed. Figs. 17A to 17C shows the board 32 shown in Fig. 15. Fig. 17A is a front view showing the front surface of the board 32. Fig. 17B is a back view showing the back surface of the board 32. Fig. 17C is a side view of the board 32.
  • A board main body 32M is a hard board of glass epoxy or the like, which has circuit patterns formed on both surfaces thereof. The upper end of the board main body 32M is formed with a notch 32a, and the lower end thereof is formed with a hole 32b. The notch 32a and the hole 32b are used for fixing the board 32 to the cover member 33. The notch 32a is used for thermal caulking.
  • Seven memory terminals (memory electrodes) 32c for electric power supply to the memory 32f and data input/output of the memory 32f and two output terminals (outer electrodes) 32d for electrical signal output from the sensor 35 are formed on the front surface of the board main body 32M. These terminals 32c, 32d are constructed by lands on the printed board, and are contacted by contact terminals (electrodes, see Fig. 24) 91c of the carriage 91 when the ink cartridge 21 is mounted to the carriage 91. The memory 32f is a non-volatile semiconductor memory accessed by the printer 81 to read therefrom and write therein data on an ink consuming amount or an ink remaining amount.
  • Two terminals (inner electrodes) 32e are formed on the back surface of the board main body 32M, which are contacted by elastically deformable terminal plates (electrodes terminals 45 in Fig. 18) of the sensor 35 and to which electric signals are input from the sensor 35. These terminals 32e are also constructed by lands on the printed board.
  • The input terminal 32e is larger in area than each of the two output terminals 35d used for electric signal output from the sensor 35. The input terminal 32e is disposed at such a location as to at least in part overlap with the output terminal 32d as viewed in a direction in which the input terminal 32e is opposed to the terminal 32d with the board main body 32M interposed therebetween, i.e. in a direction perpendicular to the front and back surfaces of the board main body 32M. A center point between the two input terminals 32e is disposed at a location that is offset from a widthwise center (center line CL-32M) of the board main body 32M by an amount corresponding to a thickness of the side cover 34.
  • The back surface of the board main body 32M has the protruded portion 32g that is formed as a consequence of sealing the memory 32f by molding process after the memory 32f is connected to the circuit pattern to be fixed to the board main body 32M.
  • The memory 32f on the back surface of the board main body 32M and the memory terminals 32c on the front surface thereof are electrically connected together by the circuit pattern (not shown) on the front and back surfaces of the board main body 32M and through holes (not shown) extending between the front and back surfaces of the board main body 32M. Similarly, the terminals 32e on the back surface of the board main body 32M and the output terminals 32d on the front surface thereof are electrically connected by the similar circuit pattern and through holes (see printed conductors PC formed on the front surface, an inner circumferential wall of a through-hole TH of the board main body 32M and the back surface in Figs. 17A and 17B).
  • Next, the sensor 35 will be discussed. Figs. 18A and 18B are exploded perspective views showing the sensor 35 shown in Fig. 15. Figs. 18A is an exploded perspective view showing the sensor 35 as viewed from the upper surface side, and Fig. 18B is an exploded perspective view showing the sensor 35 as viewed from the bottom surface side.
  • As shown in Figs. 18A and 18B, the sensor 35 includes a sensor element 41, a plate 42, a lower housing 43 made of resin, a seal 44, two electrode terminals (connectors) 45 made of metal, and an upper housing 46 made of resin.
  • The sensor element 41 is an element for detecting the presence or absence of ink in a part of the ink flow path within the sensor 35. In the present embodiment, the sensor element 41 uses a piezoelectric element to employ a piezoelectric transducer effect. The sensor element 41 receives electric power to generate vibrations for a predetermined duration, and thereafter detects vibrations to output a corresponding electric signal as a signal indicative of the presence or absence of ink. That is to say, a waveform of the electric signal output from the sensor element 41 changes depending on whether or not the ink exists in the ink flow path. The drive voltage applied to the sensor element 41 is higher than the power source voltage applied to the memory 32f of the board 32.
  • Two electrodes 41a are formed on the upper surface of the sensor element 41, and two ink flow ports 41b are formed through the lower surface of the sensor element 41. The ink flow ports 41b are provided so that the interior of the sensor element 41 forms a part of the ink flow path.
  • The sensor element 41 is adhered and fixed to the metal-made plate 42, and the plate 42 to which the sensor element 41 is fixed is disposed in a recess 43a of the lower housing 43.
  • Accordingly, the ink flow ports 41b of the sensor element 41, ink flow passage holes 42a of the plate 42 and ink flow passage holes 43b of the lower housing 43 are made continuous so that the interior space and ink flow ports 41b of the sensor element 41, the ink flow passage holes 42a of the plate 42 and the ink flow passage holes 43b of the lower housing 43 form a part of the ink flow path, which is located within the sensor 35.
  • Two electrode terminals 45 are disposed on the upper surface of the sensor element 41. Each of the electrode terminals 45 is positioned in such a manner that support columns 43c of the lower housing 43 are inserted into respective holes 45b. The electrode terminals 45 contact the electrodes 41a of the sensor element 41. Each of the electrode terminals 45 has such a shape that a planar plate made of metal is bent at both ends. Bent portions 45a at both ends are exposed from the sensor 35 to the outside. The inner portion of the bent portion 45a is perforated to provide a sufficient elasticity at the bent site. By providing the elasticity in the bending direction at the bent site, an excellent contact pressure can be generated when the electrode terminal 45 contacts the board 32, and a load applied to the electrode terminal 45 does not directly affect on the inner portion (in particular, the sensor element 41) of the sensor 35.
  • The upper housing 46 is disposed on the two electrode terminals 45. The upper housing 46 is positioned in such a manner that the support columns 43c of the lower housing 43 are inserted into holes 46a. After the support columns 43c of the lower housing 43 are inserted into the holes 46a of the upper housing 46, the upper end portions of the support columns 43c of the lower housing 43 are thermally fused so that the upper housing 46 is fixed to the lower housing 43 by thermal caulking. Accordingly, the electrode terminals 45, the sensor element 41 and the plate 42 are also fixed together within the sensor 35, so that the electrode terminals 45 are electrically conducted to the electrodes 41a of the sensor element 41 stably.
  • The seal (seal member) 44 is fitted to a bottom surface recess portion 43d of the lower housing 43. The seal 44 is more elastic than the lower housing 43 and the upper housing 46. The upper surface of the upper housing 46 is formed with a seat 46b for receiving the spring (urging member) 36.
  • Next, the assembly of the above-described components to the cartridge main body 31, and the structure after the assembly will be discussed. Fig. 19 is a sectional view of the ink cartridge 21 in a plane taken along a line A-A of Fig. 14 and parallel to the side surfaces. Fig. 20 is a sectional view of the ink cartridge 21 in a plane taken along the line A-A of Fig. 14 and parallel to the front surface. Fig. 21 is a block diagram showing an ink flow path of the ink cartridge 21.
  • First of all, the sensor 35 is disposed in the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c of the cartridge main body 31 such that the bottom surface (seal 44) of the sensor 35 contacts the inner wall at the lower side of the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c, i.e. at the ink outlet 31b side thereof.
  • Next, the spring 36 in a compressed state is disposed between the seat 46b of the sensor 35 and the protruded portion 31i of the cartridge main body 31, and then released. By the restoring force of the spring 36, the bottom surface of the sensor 35 is pressed against the inner wall of the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c to elastically deform the seal 44 of the sensor 35, making the sensor 35 in tight contact with the cartridge main body 31. Consequently, the sensor 35 is not rigidly fixed to the cartridge main body 31 but is elastically fixed to the cartridge main body 31 by the elastic members of the spring 36 and the seal 44 in a vibration direction (amplitude direction) of the sensor element 41, i.e. in the height direction.
  • As shown in Fig. 20, a part (an upstream side buffer 31p and a downstream side buffer 31q) of the ink flow path in the cartridge main body 31 is connected to the ink flow path in the sensor 35 (see a broken line in Fig. 20). As shown in Fig. 21, the sensor 35 is disposed at the part of the ink flow path, which part is located between the ink accommodating portion 61 and the check valve (reverse flow preventing valve) 62 in the cartridge main body 31. Accordingly, as far as ink exists in the ink accommodating portion 61, ink exists in the ink flow path between the ink accommodating portion 61 and the check valve 62, and if the ink in the ink accommodating portion 61 is depleted completely, then the ink in the ink flow path between the ink accommodating portion 61 and the check valve 62 becomes absent. Therefore, the sensor 35 can detect whether or not ink is present in the ink cartridge 21. In other words, the sensor 35 can detect the ink amount in the ink cartridge 21.
  • The board 32 is fixed to the cover member 33 in the following fashion: The protruded portion 33f of the cover member 33 is disposed in the notch 32a of the board 32, the protruded portion 33g of the cover member 33 is disposed in the hole 32b of the board 32, and thereafter the leading end of the protruded portion 33f is fused so as to fix the board to the cover member 33 by thermal caulking. By this fixation, the terminals 32e on the back surface of the board main body 32M are disposed at locations facing the insertion holes 33h1 of the cover member 33.
  • Thereafter, the cover member 33 is fixed to the cartridge main body 31 in the following manner. First, the pawls 33a of the cover member 33 are engaged with and retained to the engagement recess portions 31h of the cartridge main body 31. The shafts 31d of the cartridge main body 31 are inserted into the holes 33b of the cover member 33, the shaft 31e is inserted into the hole 33c, the shaft 31f is inserted into the hole 33i, and the protruded portion 31g is disposed in the recess portion 33j. At this time, the electrodes 45 of the sensor 35 contact the board 32, and the elastic force of the electrode terminals 45 forces the board 32, thus the cover member 33, in a direction away from the cartridge main body 31. Thereafter, the cover member 33 is pressed to contact the cartridge main body 31 against the elastic force of the electrode terminals 45, and the shafts 31d are fused, while maintaining the press-contact state, so that the cover member 33 is fixed to the cartridge main body 31 by thermal caulking. The thermal caulking is conducted onto the shafts 31d at the lever 31a side of the board 32, and is not conducted onto the shaft and the protruded portion at the opposite side, i.e. the cartridge main body bottom surface side, of the board 32.
  • As shown in Fig. 19, one end surface of the sensor 35 in this state abuts against a slender rib 31r of the rear surface of the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c, and the bent portions 45a of the electrode terminals 45, which are protruded from the other, opposite end surface of the sensor 35, pass through the insertion holes 33h1 of the cover member 33 to abut against the terminals 32e on the back surface of the board main body 32M. Accordingly, the electrical connection between the sensor element 41 of the sensor 35 and the output terminals 32d of the board 32 is established.
  • Since the spring 36 is guided by a cylindrical space defined by the combination of the semi-cylindrical recess portions 33k and 31j facing to each other, the spring 36 is prevented from being removed from the protruded portion 31i and the seat 46b within the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c of the cartridge main body 31. Further, the front surface of the cartridge main body 31 has a step between the proximal portions of the lever 31a and the proximal portions of the shafts 31d,31e, and therefore, when the cover member 33 is attached to the cartridge main body 31, the front side leading end surface of the cover member 33, as shown in Fig. 14, is substantially flush with the surface of the cartridge main body 31 where the proximal portion of the lever 31a is provided.
  • This way, the board 32, the cover member 33, sensor 35 and the spring 36 are assembled to the cartridge main body 31. Further, the side cover 34 is attached to the cartridge main body 31 so that the flange portion 34a of the side cover 34 restricts the movement of the protruded portion 33d of the cover member 33. The side cover 34 seals holes 31k at the bottom surface of the cartridge main body 31.
  • Next, the description will be made as to how to mount the ink cartridge 21 to the carriage 91. Figs. 22A and 22B are a top view and a back view showing a state in which the ink cartridge 21 is mounted to the carriage 91. Fig. 23 is a sectional view showing a B-B plane of Fig. 22A, and Fig. 24 is a sectional view showing a C-C plane of Fig. 22A.
  • The carriage 91 shown in Figs. 22A to 24 is designed to mount thereon six ink cartridges, each storing ink of a respective color. Figs. 22A to 23 shows a state in which only one ink cartridge 21 of one color is mounted on the carriage 91.
  • As shown in Figs. 22A to 23, the carriage 91 in the present embodiment has a shaft 91a, guides 91b, contact terminals (electrodes) 91c and an engagement hole 91d for each of the ink cartridges 21. The shaft 91a is hollow, and has an ink take-in port at the leading end thereof. When the ink cartridge 21 is mounted to the carriage 91, the shaft 91a is inserted into the ink outlet 31b of the ink cartridge 21. The ink is drawn through the interior of the shaft 91a to be supplied to a head (not shown). The guide 91b is a protruded portion extending in the height direction of the carriage 11, and during a process of mounting the ink cartridge 21 to the carriage 91 and also after the ink cartridge is completely mounted to the carriage 91, a pair of the guides 91b contact the protruded portions 33m of the cover member 33 to restrict the movement of the ink cartridge 21 and position the ink cartridge 21 in the widthwise direction (in a direction in which the ink cartridges 21 are arrayed).
  • The contact terminal 91c is a metal-made terminal for contact with the terminal 32c, 32d on the front surface of the board 32. The number of the contact terminals 91c are the same as the number of the contact terminals 32c, 32d. In the present embodiment, nine contact terminals 91c are provided for one ink cartridge 21. As shown in Fig. 24, each of the contact terminals 91c is bent by 180 degrees at a central portion, and each of the leading ends of the contact terminal 91c is thick and warps outward. Each of the contact terminals 91c is attached such that its central bent portion clamps a leading end portion of a fixing plate 91e of the carriage 91. When the ink cartridge 21 is mounted to the carriage 91, each contact terminal 91c generates an elastic force like a plate spring so that one leading end of each contact terminal 91c is brought into pressure-contact with the corresponding terminal 32c, 32dof the board 32, and the other leading end thereof is brought into pressure-contact with a corresponding terminal (not shown) of an encoder board 51 fixed to the carriage 91.
  • When the ink cartridge 21 is mounted to the carriage 91, the protruded portion (engagement portion) 31ae of the lever 31a of the ink cartridge 21 is fitted to the engagement hole 91d, thereby restricting the movement of the ink cartridge 21 in the height direction is restricted.
  • This way, when the ink cartridge 21 is mounted to the carriage 91, the electric system of the ink cartridge 21 is detachably connected to the electric system of the carriage 91, and the ink flow path (liquid supply path) of the ink cartridge 21 is detachably connected to the ink flow path of the carriage 91.
  • As shown in Fig. 24, the ink flow path continuously extends from the ink accommodating portion 61 through the sensor 35 and the check valve 62 to the ink outlet and further to the shaft 91a of the carriage 91. The ink accommodating portion 61 is divided by partitions into plural sections communicating with one another via flow passage holes not shown. The ink outlet 31b, the check valve 62, the sensor 35 and the board 32 are disposed closer to one surface of the cartridge main body 31 (here, the front surface), and therefore the ink flow path from the ink accommodating portion 61 to the ink outlet 31b is made short even if the sensor 35 and the check valve 62 are disposed at intermediate portions of the ink flow path.
  • By virtue of this arrangement, substantially all of the ink in the cartridge 21 can be consumed without damage to the print head, since at the time when the sensor 35 determines the ink has been consumed ink still will remain downstream of the sensor in the ink path extending from the check valve 62 to the print head. Because the amount of ink remaining in the ink path is fairly small, substantially all of the ink in the ink accommodating portion 61 can be consumed before the exhaustion of ink is detected, improving the use efficiency of the ink cartridge 21.
  • During the process of mounting the ink cartridge 21 to the carriage 91, the cartridge 21 is pressed toward and inserted into the carriage 91 downwardly in the vertical direction DV in Fig. 24 so that the shaft 91a is inserted into the ink outlet 31b and the lever 31a is fitted to the engagement hole 91d. Similarly, the contact terminals 91c approach the ink cartridge 21 from the bottom surface side of the ink cartridge 21 and then contact the ink cartridge 21. Therefore, the contact terminals 91c contact portions of the side cover 34 and cover member 33 at the front surface of the ink cartridge 21, and slide thereon, and finally contact the terminals 32c, 32d of the board 32 when the mounting is complete.
  • In the present embodiment, as shown in Figs. 14 and 15, the front surface of the ink cartridge 21 does not use the thermal caulking in an area extending from the bottom surface to the terminals 32c, 32d of the board 32, and therefore the contact terminals 91c of the carriage 91 cannot contact the thermal caulking portions. Since the cover 33 and the side cover 34 are made of resin but molded to have smooth surfaces, abatements or cut particles are unlikely to occur from the cover 33 and the side cover 34 even if the cover 33 and the side cover 34 are contacted by the contact terminals 91c of the carriage 91.
  • The liquid container 21 according to the present embodiment has: the outer electrode 32d contactable with the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus; the electrode supporting member 32,33 which supports the outer electrode 32d and is fixed to the container body 31; the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 which is discrete from the electrode supporting member 32, 33, which is attached to the container body 31 for detecting the liquid existing in a part of the liquid supply path and which includes the piezoelectric element 41 having the electrode 41a; and the connector 45 which has an elasticity and which electrically connects the outer electrode 32d to the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric element 41.
  • The electrode supporting member 32, 33 supporting the outer electrode 32d is discrete from the piezoelectric sensor unit 35, and the outer electrodes 32d and the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric element 41 of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 are electrically connected to each other by the connector 45 having the elasticity. Since the electrode supporting member 32, 33 is discrete from the piezoelectric sensor unit 35, an external force received by the outer electrode 32d from the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus is not directly transmitted to the piezoelectric sensor unit 35, and therefore it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 35, in particular, the piezoelectric element 41 which is a precision equipment, from the external force. Further, an output signal of the piezoelectric element 41 is significantly influenced by a fixing state of the piezoelectric element 41. By adopting such a structure that the external force cannot be directly transmitted to the piezoelectric element 41, the output characteristics of the piezoelectric element 41 can be maintained. Although the circuit board 32 and the cover 33 are used as the electrode supporting member in the present embodiment, the electrode supporting member should not be restricted to this arrangement. For example, the circuit board 32 alone may be used as the electrode supporting member, that is, the circuit board 32 may be directly fixed to the container body 31. Alternatively, the outer electrode 32d may be provided on the cover 33 (in this case, the electrode supporting member can be constructed by the cover 33 alone).
  • Since the outer electrode 32d and the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric element 41 are electrically connected to each other by the connector 45 having the elasticity, the connector 45 can use its elasticity to absorb the external force received by the outer electrode 32d. Further, even if the external force is applied to the outer electrode 32d, the connector 45 can use its elasticity to maintain the electrical connection between the outer electrode 32d and the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric element 41. Although the terminal plate 45 is used as the connector in the present embodiment, the connector should not be restricted thereto. For example, the outer electrode 32d may be electrically connected to the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric element 41 by an electric wire having an elasticity, an FPC, or the like.
  • The outer electrode 32d and the electrode supporting member 32,33 supporting the outer electrode 32d are directly contacted by the liquid consuming apparatus when the liquid container is mounted to and removed from the liquid consuming apparatus. In contrast, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is not directly contacted by the liquid consuming apparatus or has a low possibility of being directly contacted by the liquid consuming apparatus although it depends on a location where the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is attached to the container body 31. Further, the electrode supporting member 32,33 including the outer electrode 32d and the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 including the piezoelectric element 41 are at least in part formed of different material. Furthermore, a process for checking the performance of the electrode supporting member 32,33 including the outer electrode 32d is different from a process for checking the performance of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 including the piezoelectric element 41. Since the electrode supporting member 32,33 including the outer electrode 32d is discrete from the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 including the piezoelectric element 41, the liquid container used by a user and collected from the user can be efficiently subjected to a recycling process.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is discrete from the electrode supporting member 32,33. The position where the electrode supporting member 32,33 is disposed on the container body 31 is restricted in relation to the position of the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, but the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be attached to any desired position of the container body 31 as far as the piezoelectric element 41 of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is electrically connected to the outer electrode 32d supported by the electrode supporting member 32,33. That is to say, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed at a position where it can be protected from ink mist and dust.
  • The liquid container 21 according to the present embodiment has: the deformable seal member 44 disposed between the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and the wall of the container body 31; and the urging member 36 that urges the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 toward the wall of the container body 31. The piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is attached to the container body 31 through the seal member 44 and the urging member 36.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is attached to the container body 31 through the seal member 44 and the urging member 36, an external force and an impact applied to the container body 31 are absorbed by the seal member 44 and the urging member 36 and therefore are not directly transmitted to the piezoelectric sensor unit 35. Accordingly, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 35, in particular, the piezoelectric element 41.
  • Since it is possible to finely adjust the position of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 using the elastic force of the seal member 44 and the urging force of the urging member 36, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed at a position where the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can exhibit an intended performance, depending on an individual performance difference of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35. Further, in recycling, it is possible to easily remove the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 from the container body 31. Moreover, it is possible to elastically support the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 to the container body 31 using the seal member 44 disposed between the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and the wall of the container body 31 for fluid communication with the liquid supply path.
  • Although the compression coil spring 36 is used as the urging member in the present embodiment, the urging member should not be restricted thereto. A plate spring, a rubber member, a tensile spring or the like can be used as the urging member. The seal member 44 should not be restricted to the illustrated structure, configuration or the like.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the connector 45 is elastically deformable in a direction DD (see Figs. 15, 19 and 24) substantially perpendicular to a direction UD (see Figs. 15, 19, 20 and 24) in which the urging member 36 urges the piezoelectric sensor unit 35.
  • Since the urging direction UD in which the urging member 36 and the seal member 44 elastically support the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 to the container body 31 is substantially perpendicular to the deformable direction DD of the connector 45, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be elastically supported to the container body 31 stably.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the outer electrode 32d receives a force from the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus in a first direction FD (see Figs. 15, 19 and 24) when the outer electrode 32d contacts the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, the connector 45 is elastically deformable in a second direction DD, and the first direction FD is substantially parallel to the second direction DD.
  • Since the deformable direction DD of the connector 45 and the force direction FD in which the outer electrode 32d receives the external force are substantially parallel to each other, it is possible to efficiently absorb the external force by the connector 45. Accordingly, the external force does not directly act on the piezoelectric sensor unit 35. The electrical connection between the connector 45 and the outer electrode 32d does not affected by the presence or absence of the external force and can be maintained reliably.
  • The liquid container according to the present embodiment has: the deformable seal member 44 disposed between the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and a wall of the container body 31; and the urging member 36 that urges the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 toward the wall of the container body 31 in a third direction UD substantially perpendicular to the second direction DD. The piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is attached to the container body through the seal member 44 and the urging member 36.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is attached to the container body through the seal member 44 and the urging member 36, an external force and an impact applied to the container body 31 are absorbed by the seal member 44 and the urging member 36 and therefore are not directly transmitted to the piezoelectric sensor unit 35. Accordingly, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 35, in particular, the piezoelectric element 41.
  • Since it is possible to finely adjust the position of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 relative to the wall of the container body 31 using the elastic force of the seal member 44 and the urging force of the urging member 36, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed at a position where the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can exhibit an intended performance, depending on an individual performance difference of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35. Further, in recycling, it is possible to easily remove the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 from the container body 31. Moreover, it is possible to elastically support the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 to the container body 31 using the seal member 44 disposed between the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and the wall of the container body 31 for fluid communication with the liquid supply path.
  • Since the urging direction UD in which the urging member 36 and the seal member 44 elastically support the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 to the container body 31 is substantially perpendicular to the deformable direction DD of the connector 45, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be elastically supported to the container body 31 stably.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the container body 31 has a recess 31c for accommodating the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 therein, and the electrode supporting member 32,33 closes an opening of the recess 31c.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is disposed in a closed space formed by the recess 31c of the container body 31 and the electrode supporting member 32,33, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be protected from ink mist, dust and external force.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the container body 31 includes a first wall 31w1 and an opposite, second wall 31w2, the liquid supply port 31b is disposed at an offset position closer to the first wall 31w1 than to the second wall 31w2, and the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is disposed at an offset portion closer to the first wall 31w1 than to the second wall 31w2.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed close to the liquid supply port 31b. In general, a portion of the container body 31, which is close to the liquid supply port 31b, has a high rigidity. Accordingly, by disposing the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 at such a high rigidity portion of the container body 31, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and to install the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 stably.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is disposed between the liquid supply port 31b and the first wall 31w1 in a horizontal direction Dh (see Figs. 15 and 24) in which the first wall 31w1 and the second wall 31w2 are opposed to each other.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed at a higher rigidity portion of the container body 31.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the container body 31 includes a top wall 31wt and a bottom wall 31wb having the ink supply port 31b, and the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is disposed at an offset position closer to the bottom wall 31wb than to the top wall 31wt.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed at a higher rigidity portion of the container body 31.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is accommodated in a recess 31c of the container body 31.
  • Since the location where the piezoelectric sensor 35 is disposed is the higher rigidity portion of the container body 31, a necessary and sufficient rigidity of that portion of the container body 31 can be secured even if the recess 31c, which may lower the rigidity, is formed in the container body 31. Therefore, the recess 31c is formed in the container body 31 and the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is accommodated in the recess 31c. Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed inside the container body 31, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 from ink mist, dust and external force.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, an opening of the recess 31c is closed by the electrode supporting member 32,33 fixed to the first wall 31w1.
  • Since the electrode supporting member 32,33 serves as a reinforcing member for the portion of the container body 31 where the recess 31c is formed, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed at a higher rigidity portion of the container body.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is disposed in a closed space formed by the recess 31c of the container body 31 and the electrode supporting member 32,33, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 from ink mist, dust and external force.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the container body 31 includes a first wall 31w1, an opposite, second wall 31w2 and a lever 31a having an engagement portion 31ae located closer to the first wall 31w1 than to the second wall 31w2 and displaceable toward and away from the first wall 31w1 for engagement with the liquid consuming apparatus, the liquid supply port 31b is disposed at an offset position closer to the first wall 31w1 than to the second wall 31w2, and the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is disposed at an offset portion closer to the first wall 31w1 than to the second wall 31w2.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed close to the liquid supply port 31b, i.e. at a high rigidity portion of the container body, to protect and stably install the piezoelectric sensor unit 35.
  • The liquid supply port 31b and the engagement portion 31ae of the lever 31a are reference portions for positioning the liquid container with respect to the liquid consuming apparatus. Therefore, a portion of the container body 31, which is close to the liquid supply port 31b and the engagement portion 31ae can be positioned with high precision with respect to the liquid consuming apparatus. For this reason, in general, the electrode 32d to be contacted by the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus is disposed at the portion of the container body 31, which is close to the liquid supply port 31b and the engagement portion 31ae. By disposing the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 close to the liquid supply port 31b and the engagement portion 31ae, it is possible to shorten the length of an electric path between the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and the electrode 32d, and therefore to increase the reliability of signal transmission between the liquid consuming apparatus and the piezoelectric element 41 through the electrode 91c, the electrode 32d, the electrode 41a, etc.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is disposed between the liquid supply port 31b and the engagement portion 31ae in a horizontal direction Dh in which the first wall 31w1 and the second wall 31w2 are opposed to each other.
  • The piezoelectric sensor 35 can be disposed at a higher rigidity portion of the container body 31. The length of an electric path between the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and the electrode 32d can be shortened.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is disposed between the liquid supply port 31b and the engagement portion 31ae in a vertical direction Dv (see Fig. 24) perpendicular to the horizontal direction Dh.
  • The piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed at a higher rigidity portion of the container body 31. The length of an electric path between the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and the electrode 32d can be shortened.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is accommodated in a recess 31c of the container body 31.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 can be disposed inside the container body 31, it is possible to protect the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 from ink mist, dust and external force.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, an opening of the recess 31c is closed by the electrode supporting member 32,33 fixed to the first wall 31w1.
  • Since the electrode supporting member 32,33 serves as a reinforcing member for the portion of the container body 31 where the recess 31c is formed, the piezoelectric sensor 35 can be disposed at a higher rigidity portion of the container body.
  • The liquid container according to the present embodiment has an inner electrode 32e which is electrically connected to the outer electrode 32d and which is supported by the electrode supporting member 32,33. The connector 45 contacts the inner electrode 32e for electrical connection to the outer electrode 32d.
  • When the liquid container 31 is mounted to and removed from the liquid consuming apparatus, the outer electrode 32d is subjected to sliding contact by the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus. Since the connector 45 contacts the inner electrode 32e, different from the outer electrode 32d, to be electrically connected to the outer electrode 32d, the contact portion of the connector 45 is not subjected to the sliding contact by the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus. Accordingly, the electrical connection between the connector 45 and the outer electrode 32d is free from the sliding contact of the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, to thereby establish a reliable electrical connection.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the connector 45 includes an elastic terminal plate 45, the elastic terminal plate 45 is attached to the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and electrically connected to the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric element 41, and the elastic terminal plate 45 contacts the inner electrode 32e for electrical connection between the outer electrode 32d and the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric element 41.
  • Since the elastic terminal plate 45 is attached to the piezoelectric sensor unit 35, the elastic terminal plate can also be handled as one of unit components of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35. That is, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 including the elastic terminal plate 45 can be attached to and removed from the container body 31 as one unit. Accordingly, it is possible to enhance the manufacturing process efficiency and the recycling process efficiency.
  • The contact of the elastic terminal plate 45 with the inner electrode 32e can establish the electrical connection between the outer electrode 32d and the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric element 41. Therefore, since the electrode supporting member 32 having the outer electrode 32d and the inner electrode 32e can be discrete from the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 having the piezoelectric element 41 and the elastic terminal plate 45, it is possible to enhance the manufacturing process efficiency and the recycling process efficiency.
  • Since the elastic terminal plate 45 can be positively contacted with the inner electrode 32e using the elasticity of the elastic terminal plate 45, the elastic terminal plate 45 can be electrically connected to the inner electrode 32e with high reliability.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the elastic terminal plate 45 is displaceable relative to the inner electrode 32e while maintaining contact with the inner electrode 32e.
  • The contact of the elastic terminal plate 45 with the inner electrode 32e, i.e. the electrical connection, can be reliably secured even if the relative position of the elastic terminal plate 45 to the inner electrode 32e is more or less shifted. It is also possible to make it easy to manage the dimensional precision of component parts and assembly precision of the component parts during manufacture and recycle.
  • This arrangement is advantageous also in the case in which the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is elastically supported to the container body 31. That is, even if the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is more or less shifted relative to the electrode supporting member 32, 33 in the direction DD, the direction UD and a direction perpendicular to these directions DD and UD, it is possible to maintain the contact of the elastic terminal plate 45 with the inner electrode 31e by simply changing the contact position of the elastic terminal plate 45 with the inner electrode 31e correspondingly.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the electrode supporting member 32,33 includes a circuit board 32 that has a first surface on which the outer electrode 32d is formed and an opposite, second surface on which the inner electrode 32e is formed, and the circuit board 32 is fixed to the container body 31 so that the second surface is located between the first surface and the piezoelectric sensor unit 35.
  • Since the electrode supporting member is constructed by the circuit board 32, the outer electrode 32d and the inner electrode 32e can be formed easily, for example, by a conductor printing technology.
  • The outer electrode 32d is formed on the first surface (front surface) of the circuit board 32 and the inner electrode 32e is formed on the second surface (back surface) of the circuit board 32e. Therefore, since a side in which the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus contacts the outer electrode 32d and a side in which the terminal plate 45 contacts the inner electrode 32e can be surely partitioned one from the other by the circuit board 32, the contact portion between the terminal plate 45 and the inner electrode 32e is not subjected to the sliding contact by the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • Since the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is also disposed in the side in which the terminal plate 45 contacts the inner electrode 32e, the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is also free from the sliding contact by the electrode 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • By fixing the circuit board 32 to the container body 31 such that the terminal plate 45 pressure-contacts the inner electrode 32e of the second surface using the elasticity of the terminal plate 45, it is possible to easily establish the electrical connection between the outer electrode 32d and the electrode 41a of the piezoelectric element 41.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the electrode supporting member further includes a circuit board supporting member 33 that supports the circuit board 32, and the circuit board 32 is fixed to the container body 31 through the circuit board supporting member 33.
  • For example, it is possible to fix the circuit board 32 to the circuit board supporting member 33 before the circuit board supporting member 33 is fixed to the container body 31. In this case, since the circuit board 32 is fixed to the circuit board supporting member 33, it is possible to easily handle the circuit board 32 and protect the circuit board 32.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the circuit board supporting member 33 has a through-hole 33h1 into which a protruded portion 45a of the elastic terminal plate 45 is inserted for contact with the inner electrode 32e of the circuit board 32.
  • Even in a case in which the circuit board supporting member 33 is interposed between the circuit board 32 and the sensor unit 35, the terminal plate 45 can be easily brought into contact the inner electrode 32e using the through hole 33h1.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, a clearance is provided between the through-hole 33h1 and the protruded portion 45a so that the protruded portion 45a is displaceable relative to the through-hole 33h1 without contacting with the through-hole 33h1.
  • The through-hole 33h1 can permit the change of the contact position of the elastic terminal plate 45 with the inner electrode 32e.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the through-hole 33h1 is covered by the circuit board 32.
  • It is possible to prevent ink mist and dust from passing through the through hole 33h1 to reach the contact portion between the inner electrode 33e and the elastic terminal plate 45 and the piezoelectric sensor unit 35.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the circuit board supporting member 33 has a protruded engagement portion 33a, and the container body 31 has a mating engagement recess portion 31h for engagement with the protruded engagement portion 33a when the circuit board supporting member 33 is disposed in place with respect to the container body 31.
  • The circuit board supporting member 33 can be fixed to the container body 31 by the engagement between the protruded engagement portion 33a and the engagement recess portion 31h. In particular, in a case in which the circuit board 32 is fixed to the circuit board supporting member 33 before the circuit board supporting member 33 is fixed to the container body 31, the circuit board supporting member 33 having the circuit board 32 can be fixed to the container body 31 by the engagement between the protruded engagement portion 33a and the engagement recess portion 31h. The circuit board supporting member 33 having the circuit board 32 can be removed from the container body 31 by disengaging the protruded engagement portion 33a from the engagement recess portion 31h. Accordingly, this arrangement can enhance the workability, for example, when a fine adjustment for the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 (such as a fine adjustment for the position of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 relative to the container body 31) or an exchange of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is required after the circuit board 32 is fixed to the container body 31.
  • The liquid container according to the present embodiment has: a memory 32f mounted to the second surface (back surface) of the circuit board 32; and a memory electrode 32c electrically connected to the memory 32f and formed on the first surface (front surface) of the circuit board 32.
  • Various information relating the liquid consuming apparatus and the liquid container can be stored in the circuit board 32 using the memory 32f.
  • Since the memory 32f is mounted to the second surface (back surface) of the circuit board 32 similarly to the inner electrode 32e, it is possible to protect the memory 32f.
  • Since the memory electrode 32c slidingly contacted by the electrode of the liquid consuming apparatus is formed on the first surface (front surface), the contact portion between the terminal plate 45 and the inner electrode 32e is not subjected to the sliding contact by the electrode of the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • The circuit board 32 according to the present embodiment has: a board main body 32M; a pair of first electrodes 32d for contact with and electrical connection to the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, the first electrodes 32d being formed on a first surface (front surface) of the board main body 32M; and a pair of second electrodes 32e for contact with and electrical connection to the terminal plates 45 of the sensor unit 35, the second electrodes 32e being formed on an opposite, second surface (back surface) of the board main body 32M and electrically connected respectively to the first electrodes 32d.
  • The pair of the electrodes 32d for contact with and electrical connection to the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus are formed on the first surface (front surface) of the board main body 32M, and the pair of the electrodes 32e for contact with and electrical connection to the terminal plates 45 of the sensor unit 35 are formed on the opposite, second surface (back surface) of the board main body 32M. Accordingly, since a side in which the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus contact the first electrodes 32d, and a side in which the terminal plates 45 contact the second electrodes 32e can be surely partitioned one from the other by the board main body 32M, the contact portions between the terminal plates 45 and the second electrodes 32e are not subjected to the sliding contact by the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, each of the first electrodes 32d has an inner edge and an outer edge. That is, as shown in Fig. 17A, the right-side first electrode 32dR has an inner edge 32dRIE and an outer edge 32dROE. The left-side first electrode 32dL has an inner edge 32dLIE and an outer edge 32dLOE.
  • Each of the second electrodes 32e has an inner edge and an outer edge. That is, as shown in Fig. 17B, the right-side second electrode 32eR, as viewed from the front surface, has an inner edge 32eRIE and an outer edge 32eROE. The left-side second electrode 32eL has an inner edge 32eLIE and an outer edge 32eLOE.
  • A distance D-dIE between the inner edge 32dRIE of one 32dR of the first electrodes and the inner edge 32dLIE of the other 32dL of the first electrodes is smaller than the first center-to-center distance D-CLL (see Fig. 23). The first center-to-center distance D-CLL is a distance between center lines of the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c respectively contacted by the electrodes 32dR and 32dL. In the present embodiment, the electrodes 32dR and 32dL respectively contact the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c in a lower electrode row.
  • A distance D-dOE between the outer edge 32dROE of one 32dR of the first electrodes and the outer edge 32dLOE of the other 32dL of the first electrodes is larger than the first center-to-center distance D-CLL.
  • A distance D-eIE between the inner edge 32eRIE of one 32eR of the second electrodes and the inner edge 32eLIE of the other 32eL of the second electrode is smaller than the second center- to-center distance D·CLT. The second center-to-center distance D-CLT (see Fig. 18B) is a distance between center lines of the sensor unit terminal plates 45 respectively contacted by the electrodes 32eR and 32eL.
  • A distance D-eOE between the outer edge 32eROE of one 32eR of the second electrodes and the outer edge 32eLOE of the other 32eL of the second electrodes is larger than the second center-to-center distance D-CLT.
  • By this arrangement, the contact between the first electrodes 31d and the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c, and thus the electrical connection therebetween, can be made reliable even if the relative positions of the first electrodes 31d to the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c are more or less shifted. By this arrangement, the contact between the second electrodes 32e and the terminal plates 45, and thus the electrical connection therebetween, can be made reliable even if the relative positions of the second electrodes 32e to the terminal plates 46 are more or less shifted.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, the board main body 32M has a center line CL 32M, and the first electrodes 32dR, 32dL are located symmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL-32M.
  • In general in a case in which the liquid container 21 is mounted to the liquid consuming apparatus, a center line CL-sp of the liquid supply port is one of important elements from the viewpoint of properly positioning the liquid container relative to the liquid consuming apparatus. For this reason, in a case in which the circuit board 32 is provided to the liquid container 21, the circuit board 82 is fixed to the liquid container 21 such that the center line CL-32M of the board main body 32M is coincident with the center line CL-sp of the liquid supply port as viewed in a direction perpendicular to the surface (front surface, back surface) of the circuit board 32. Accordingly, by disposing the first electrodes 32dR, 32dL symmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL·32M of the board main body 32M, it is possible to properly and accurately position the first electrodes 32dR, 32dL relative to the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes 91c.
  • The circuit board according to the present embodiment has a first positioning through-hole 32b or notch 32a located on the center line CL-32M, and a second positioning through-hole 32b notch 32a located on the center line CL-32M.
  • By this arrangement, the circuit board 32 can be accurately positioned relative to the liquid container 21.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment: the second electrodes 32eR, 32eL are located asymmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL-32M; and a distance D-eR (D-eL) between the inner and outer edges 32eRIE, 32eROE (32eLIE, 32eLOE) of each of the second electrodes 32eR (32eL) is larger than a distance D-dR (D-dL) between the inner and outer edges 32dRIE, 32dROE (32dLIE, 32dLOE) of each of the first electrodes 32dR (32dL).
  • Although it is also preferable to dispose the terminal plates 45 of the sensor unit 35 symmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL-32M of the board main body 32M as viewed in a direction perpendicular to the surface (front surface, back surface) of the circuit board 32, there is a case in which the terminal plates 45 cannot be disposed symmetrically with respect to the center line CL-32M in relation to a space limitation of the liquid container 21, another member (a side cover 34 in the present embodiment) of the liquid container 21, or the like. In such a case, the second electrodes 32eR, 32eL can be disposed asymmetrically to each other with respect to the center line CL-32M to correspond to the locations of the terminal plates 45. In such a case, it is preferable to make larger the width of the second electrodes 32eR, 32eL, i.e. the distance D-eR, D-eL, to provide a more reliable electric connection between the second electrode 32eR, 32eL and the terminal plate 45.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, the first electrodes 32d are electrically connected to the second electrodes 32e though printed conductors PC formed on the first surface, an inner circumferential wall of a through-hole TH of the board main body and the second surface (see Figs. 17A and 17B).
  • The electrical connection between the first electrode 32d and the second electrode 32e can be readily achieved by a conductor printing technology. The use of the inner circumferential wall of the through hole TH of the board main body 32M can shorten the length of the printed conductor PC required for electrical connection between the first electrode 32d and the second electrode 32e. In particular, since the first electrode 32d and the second electrode 32e are electrically connected to the terminal plate 45 of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35, signals transmitted between the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 and the liquid consuming apparatus through the first electrode 32d and the second electrode 32e are analog signals. Therefore, by shortening the length of the printed conductor PC, it is possible to prevent noise from superimposing onto the analog signals.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, one 32dR (32dL) of the first electrodes 32d, which is electrically connected to corresponding one 32eR (32eL) of the second electrodes 32e, is at least in part overlapped with the corresponding one 32eR (32eL) of the second electrodes 32e as viewed in a direction perpendicular to the first and second surfaces.
  • By this arrangement, it is possible to shorten the connection length between the first electrode 32dR (32dL) and the corresponding second electrode 32eR (32eL).
  • The circuit board according to the present embodiment has a memory 32f mounted to the second surface of the board main body, and third electrodes 32c formed on the first surface of the board main body and electrically connected to the memory 32f. The first electrodes 32d and the third electrodes 32c are arrayed in a first row, and the first electrodes 32d are respectively disposed at outermost ends of the row.
  • In a case in which liquid container electrodes contacted by liquid consuming apparatus electrodes when the liquid container is mounted to the liquid consuming apparatus are arrayed in an electrode row (in the present embodiment, the first electrodes 32d and the third electrodes 32c are arrayed in a lower row), the outermost electrodes in the electrode row have the highest possibility of being shifted relative to the liquid consuming apparatus electrodes. In other words, if the outermost electrodes in the electrode row are properly positioned relative to the corresponding liquid consuming apparatus electrodes, then the electrodes inside the outermost electrodes in the electrode row are properly positioned surely relative to the corresponding liquid consuming apparatus electrodes.
  • When the liquid container is mounted to the liquid consuming apparatus, the liquid consuming apparatus, at first, detects whether or not the liquid container accommodates the liquid therein. In a case in which the liquid container accommodates the liquid therein, the liquid consuming apparatus, next, accesses to the memory to obtain various information from the memory. Therefore, the liquid consuming apparatus accesses, at first, the first electrode 32d and then the third electrode 32c.
  • In view of these points, it is advantageous to dispose the first electrodes 32d at the outermost ends of the row as follows:
  • In a case in which the liquid consuming apparatus tries to access the first electrodes 32d but cannot access the first electrodes 32d, the liquid consuming apparatus can determine that liquid container is not properly positioned relative to the liquid consuming apparatus. Consequently, the liquid consuming apparatus, without accessing the memory, can inform a user of a fact that the liquid container is not properly positioned and can promote the user to re-mount the liquid container. It is also possible to prevent the damage of the memory caused by the improper access to the memory.
  • A case in which the liquid consuming apparatus can access the first electrodes 32d located at the outermost ends of the electrode row means that the third electrodes 32c located inside the first electrodes 32d are also positioned properly, and therefore if the liquid consuming apparatus is arranged to access the third electrodes 32c after the liquid consuming apparatus has accessed the first electrodes 32d, it is possible to prevent the damage of the memory caused by the improper access to the memory. In other words, by disposing the first electrodes 32d at the outermost ends of the electrode row, it is possible not only to detect whether or not the liquid exists in the liquid container but also to detect whether or not the liquid container is properly positioned relative to the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • The voltage applied to the first electrodes 32d electrically connected to the terminal plates 45 of the piezoelectric sensor unit 35 is higher than the voltage applied to the third electrode 32c electrically connected to the memory 32f. Therefore, disposing the first electrodes 32dR, 32dL at the outermost ends of the electrode row (i.e. making longer a distance between the first electrodes 32dR, 32dL and a distance between the second electrodes 32eR, 32eL) is also advantageous from a viewpoint of preventing a short-circuit between the first electrodes 32dR, 32dL and between the second electrodes 32eR, 32eL.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, each of the second electrodes is larger in area than each of the first electrodes.
  • The contact between the second electrode 32e and the terminal plate 45 of the sensor unit 35, i.e. the electrical connection therebetween, can be made more reliable by effectively using a space of the second surface (back surface) of the board main body 32M.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, the first and third electrodes have a same shape and size.
  • It is possible to increase the positioning accuracy of the first and third electrodes 32d, 32c relative to the electrodes of the liquid consuming apparatus. Since the electrodes of the liquid consuming apparatus, which respectively contact the first and third electrodes 32d, 32c can be made to have a same shape and size, it is possible to decrease manufacturing cost.
  • In the circuit board according to the present embodiment, the first and third electrodes are arrayed at a same pitch.
  • It is possible to increase the positioning accuracy of the first and third electrodes 32d, 32c relative to the electrodes of the liquid consuming apparatus. Since the electrodes of the liquid consuming apparatus, which respectively contact the first and third electrodes 32d, 32c can be arrayed at the same pitch, it is possible to decrease manufacturing cost.
  • The circuit board according to the present embodiment has fourth electrodes 32c formed on the first surface of the board main body 32M and electrically connected to the memory 32f. The fourth electrodes 32c are arrayed in a second row parallel to the first row, and a distance D-R2, D-L2 between a center line CL-32M of the board main body 32M and each of outermost ones of the fourth electrodes 32d in the second row is smaller than a distance D-R1, D-L1 between the center line CL-32M of the board main body 32M and each of the first electrodes 32d.
  • In a case in which a number of the electrodes 32c electrically connected to the memory 32f is large, it is preferable to array the electrodes 32c into plural electrode rows in order to prevent a distance between the adjacent electrodes 32c from becoming too short. In the present embodiment, the three electrodes 32c are arrayed in the lower row (first row), and the four electrodes 32c are arrayed in the upper row (second row). In a case in which the electrodes 32c are arrayed in plural rows, it is advantageous that not only the third electrodes 32c arrayed in the first row together with the first electrodes 32d but also the fourth electrodes 32c arrayed in the second row are disposed inside the first electrodes 32d. This is because by detecting whether or not the first electrodes 32d are properly positioned relative to the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, it is possible to detect whether or not the third and fourth electrodes 32c in the first and second rows are properly positioned relative to corresponding electrodes of the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • The circuit board 32 according to the present embodiment has: a board main body 32M; a pair of first electrodes 32d for electrical connection to the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus, the first electrodes 32d being formed on a first surface of the board main body; a pair of second electrodes 32e for electrical connection to the terminal plates 45 of the sensor unit 35, the second electrodes 32e being formed on an opposite, second surface of the board main body 32M and electrically connected respectively to the first electrodes 32d; a memory 32f mounted to the second surface of the board main body 32M; and third electrodes 32c formed on the first surface of the board main body 32M and electrically connected to the memory 32f. The first electrodes 32d and the third electrodes 32c are arrayed in a first row, and the first electrodes 32d are respectively disposed at outermost ends of the row.
  • The pair of the electrodes 32d for electrical connection to the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus are formed on the first surface (front surface) of the board main body 32M, and the pair of the electrodes 32e for electrical connection to the terminal plates 45 of the sensor unit 35 are formed on the opposite, second surface (back surface) of the board main body 32M. Accordingly, since a side in which the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus are electrically connected to the first electrodes 32d, and a side in which the terminal plates 45 are electrically connected to the second electrodes 32e can be surely partitioned one from the other by the board main body 32M, the electrical connection between the terminal plates 45 and the second electrodes 32e is not adversely affected by the electrical connection between the electrodes 91c of the liquid consuming apparatus and the electrodes 32d.
  • By disposing the first electrodes 32d at the outermost ends of the electrode row, it is possible not only to detect whether or not the liquid exists in the liquid container but also to detect whether or not the liquid container is properly positioned relative to the liquid consuming apparatus.
  • It is also advantageous to dispose the first electrodes 32d at the outermost ends of the electrode row from a viewpoint of preventing a short-circuit between the first electrodes 32d and between the second electrodes 32e.
  • The liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 according to the present embodiment includes: a main body 31 which accommodates liquid (ink) therein and which preferably has a substantially parallelepiped shape; a board 32 having an output terminal 32d for outputting an electric signal to an apparatus (printer) to which the liquid container is mountable; and a sensor 35 which is disposed close to a surface of the main body 31 (front surface) having the board 32 thereon and which can output the electric signal through the output terminal 32d of the board 32 to the apparatus. The electric signal is indicative of whether or not the liquid is consumed up to a point where the sensor 35 is disposed.
  • For example, when the main body 31 has the substantially parallelepiped shape having a first surface (front surface) and a second surface (back surface) opposite to the first surface, the sensor 35 is disposed at a location closer to the first surface on which the board 32 is disposed than to the second surface. The sensor 35 outputs, through the output terminal 32d of the board 32, an electric signal depending on an amount of the liquid.
  • By this arrangement, a transmission path for the electric signal from the sensor 35 to the board can be shortened, and therefore even if the sensor 35 is disposed on the liquid container 21, the size of the liquid container can be maintained to be small. Accordingly, the size of the apparatus (the carriage 91 and thus the printer 81) can be maintained to be small regardless of whether or not the sensor 35 is mounted to the liquid container 21.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the sensor 35 detects an amount of the liquid existing in a portion of a liquid flow path (liquid supply path) between a liquid accommodating portion (ink accommodating portion) 61 and a liquid supply port (ink outlet) 31b, and the liquid supply port 31b and the sensor 35 are located close to the surface (front surface) on which the board is disposed. The sensor 35 is located closer to the front surface than the liquid supply port 31b is located.
  • By this arrangement, not only the electric signal transmission path from the sensor 35 to the board 32 but also the liquid flow path from the liquid accommodating portion 61 through the sensor 35 to the liquid supply port 31b can be shortened, and therefore even if the sensor 35 is disposed on the liquid container 21, the size of the liquid container can be maintained to be small. Accordingly, the size of the apparatus (the carriage 91 and thus the printer 81) can be maintained to be small regardless of whether or not the sensor 35 is mounted to the liquid container 21.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, a check valve 62 is disposed in a portion of the ink supply path between the liquid accommodating portion 61 and the liquid supply port 31b to prevent a reverse flow of the liquid. The sensor 35 detects the amount of the liquid in the portion of the liquid supply path between the ink accommodating portion 61 and the check valve 62, and check valve 62 and the sensor 35 are both disposed close to the surface (front surface) on which the board 32 is disposed. The sensor 35 is located closer to the front surface than the check valve 62 is located.
  • By this arrangement, not only the electric signal transmission path from the sensor 35 to the board 32 but also the liquid flow path from the liquid accommodating portion 61 through the sensor 35 and the check valve 62 to the liquid supply port 31b can be shortened, and therefore even if the sensor 35 is disposed on the liquid container 21, the size of the liquid container can be maintained to be small. Accordingly, the size of the apparatus (the carriage 91 and thus the printer 81) can be maintained to be small regardless of whether or not the sensor 35 is mounted to the liquid container 21.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, a lever 31a is provided, which is operated when the liquid container 21 is mounted to and removed from the apparatus (the carriage 91 of the printer 81), and which can engage the apparatus (the carriage 91). The lever 31a and the board 32 are provided on the same surface of the main body 31, and the sensor 35 is disposed close to the surface on which the lever 31a and the board 32 are provided.
  • By this arrangement, the engagement of the lever 31a contributes to more accurately positioning the board 32 provided on the same surface.
  • The liquid container 21 according to the present embodiment is mountable to the carriage 91 of the apparatus (printer) 81, and the sensor 35 is disposed close to a surface that is the closest surface of the main body 31 to an encoder board 51 fixed to the carriage 91 when the liquid container 21 is mounted to the carriage 91.
  • By this arrangement, a distance from the sensor 35 through the board 32 to the encoder board 51 can be shortened, and therefore even if the sensor 35 is disposed on the liquid container 21, the size of the liquid container can be maintained to be small.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the board 32 has a memory 32f that can store data on an amount of the liquid consumed from the main body 31 or an amount of liquid remaining in the main body 31, and a memory terminal 32c for reading the data from and writing the data into the memory 32f.
  • By this arrangement, the board can be used commonly for mounting the memory thereon and outputting the electric signal of the sensor 35 therefrom, and therefore even if the sensor 35 is disposed on the liquid container 21, the size of the liquid container can be maintained to be small. Accordingly, the size of the apparatus (the carriage 91 and thus the printer 81) can be maintained to be small regardless of whether or not the sensor 35 is mounted to the liquid container 21.
  • The liquid container 21 according to the present embodiment includes: a sensor 35; a cover member 33; and a board 32. The sensor 35 can outputs an electric signal depending on an amount of liquid. The cover member 33 covers at least a part of the sensor 35 attached to a main body 31 of the container 21. The board 32 is fixed to the cover member 33 and has a terminal 32d for outputting the electric signal of the sensor 35.
  • This arrangement is simple but can realize both the output of the electric signal from the sensor 35 through the board 32 and the isolation of the sensor 35 from the ambient environment. Accordingly, it is possible to eliminate erroneous operation and damage of the sensor 35 caused due to dust, liquid mist (ink mist), etc. In addition, even in a case in which an electric or electronic equipment different from the sensor 35 is disposed in place of the sensor 35, it is similarly possible to eliminate erroneous operation and damage of the equipment.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the board 32 covers at least a part of a portion of the sensor 35, which portion is not covered by the cover member 33. For example, in the present embodiment, the cover member 33 has an insertion hole 33h1, and a portion of the sensor 35 corresponding to this insertion hole 33h1 is covered by the board 32.
  • By this arrangement, the sensor 35 can be isolated from the ambient environment, and therefore it is possible to eliminate erroneous operation and damage of the sensor 35 caused due to dust, liquid mist (ink mist), etc.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the sensor 35 is disposed in a sensor accommodating recess portion 31c formed in the main body 31, and the cover member 33 is fixed to an open end of the sensor accommodating recess portion 31c (i.e. to the front surface of the main body 31).
  • By this arrangement, the sensor 35 can be isolated from the ambient environment, and therefore it is possible to eliminate erroneous operation and damage of the sensor 35 caused due to dust, liquid mist (ink mist), etc.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, independently of the cover member 33 and the board 32, the sensor 35 is attached to the main body 31 through a spring 36 and a seal 44, each of which functions as an elastic member.
  • By this arrangement, the sensor 35 is not rigidly fixed relative to the cover member 33 and/or the board 32 that are contacted by an apparatus (printer) 81 to which the liquid container 21 is mountable. Accordingly, even in a case in which the sensor 35 employs dynamic effect like a piezoelectric element, it is possible to obtain an accurate detection signal depending on an amount of liquid.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the board 32 has a memory 32f that can store data on an amount of the liquid consumed from the main body 31 or an amount of liquid remaining in the main body 31, and a memory terminal 32c for reading the data from and writing the data into the memory 32f.
  • By this arrangement, the board can be used commonly for outputting the electric signal of the sensor 35 therefrom and mounting thereon the memory 32f capable of storing the data on the consumed or remaining liquid amount, and therefore without any increase of the number of board mounted to the liquid container, it is possible to output the electric signal of the sensor 35.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the cover member 33 is disposed between the sensor 35 and the board 32, and has an insertion hole 33h1 into which a part of the sensor 35 (an electrode terminal 45 of the sensor 35) is inserted. In addition, in a case in which a different conductor member or another conductor member is used to electrically connect the sensor 35 to the board 32, the conductor member may be inserted into the insertion hole 33h1 for electrical connection therebetween.
  • By this arrangement, the electric signal path can be disposed within the hole 33h1 and therefore more area of the sensor 35 can be covered, and the sensor 35 can be isolated from the ambient environment. It is possible to eliminate erroneous operation and damage of the sensor 35 caused due to dust, liquid mist (ink mist), etc.
  • The sensor assembly according to the present embodiment includes: a sensor 35 attachable to a main body 31 of a liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 and capable of outputting an electric signal depending on an amount of liquid (ink); a cover member 33 for covering at least a part of the sensor 35, the cover member 33 having a connection portion 33a that can be fixed to the main body 31; and a board 32 fixed to the cover member 33, the board 32 having a terminal 32d for outputting the electric signal of the sensor 35.
  • This arrangement is simple but can realize both the output of the electric signal from the sensor 35 through the board 32 and the isolation of the sensor 35 from the ambient environment. Accordingly, it is possible to eliminate erroneous operation and damage of the sensor 35 caused due to dust, liquid mist (ink mist), etc.
  • The sensor assembly according to the present embodiment includes: a sensor 35 attachable to a main body 31 of a liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 and capable of outputting an electric signal depending on an amount of liquid (ink); and a board 32 for covering at least a part of the sensor 35, the board 32 having a terminal 32d for outputting the electric signal of the sensor 35.
  • This arrangement is simple but can realize both the output of the electric signal from the sensor 35 through the board 32 and the isolation of the sensor 35 from the ambient environment. Accordingly, it is possible to eliminate erroneous operation and damage of the sensor 35 caused due to dust, liquid mist (ink mist), etc.
  • The cover according to the present embodiment includes: a cover member 33 having a connection portion 33a that can be fixed to a main body 31 of a liquid container (ink cartridge) 21, the cover member 33 being configured to cover at least a part of an electric or electronic equipment 35 attached to the main body 31 when the connection portion 33a is fixed to the main body 31; and a board 32 fixed to the cover member 33, the board 32 having a terminal 32d for outputting the electric signal of the equipment 35.
  • This arrangement is simple but can realize both the output of the electric signal from the electric or electronic equipment 35 and the isolation of the equipment 35 from the ambient environment. Accordingly, it is possible to eliminate erroneous operation and damage of the equipment 35 caused due to dust, liquid mist (ink mist), etc.
  • A liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 according to the present embodiment includes a sensor 35, a cover member 33 and a board 32. The sensor 35 outputs an electric signal depending on an amount of liquid (ink). The cover 33 covers at least a part of the sensor 35 attached to a main body 31 of the liquid container. The board 32 is fixed to the cover member 33, and has: an input terminal 32e on one surface (back surface) thereof, which is contacted by an electrode terminal 45 and to which an electric signal of the sensor 35 is input; and an output terminal 32d on another surface (front surface) thereof, from which the electric signal of the sensor 35 is output.
  • This arrangement is simple but can establish an electrical connection between the sensor 35 and the liquid container side contact terminal (i.e. the output terminal 32d of the board 32) provided for outputting the electric signal of the sensor 35 because the electrode terminal 45 of the sensor 35 directly contacts the input terminal 32e of the board 32 having the output terminal 32d. Further, since the input terminal is provided on a surface different from a surface on which the output terminal is provided, it is possible to increase the area of the input terminal contacted by the sensor, and therefore it is possible to increase assembly tolerances of the sensor and the board.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the input terminal 32e of the board 32 is electrically connected to the output terminal 32d through a through hole TH extending between the back surface of the board main body 32M and the front surface thereof.
  • By this arrangement, since the input terminal 32e and the output terminal 32d are electrically connected to each other through the interior of the board main body 32M, the input terminal 32e and the output terminal 32d can be electrically connected to each other without increase of component parts.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, each input terminal 32e of the board 32 at least in part overlaps with the corresponding output terminal 32d as viewed in a direction perpendicular to the back surface and the front surface of the board main body 32M.
  • By this arrangement, the circuit length between the input terminal 32e on the back surface and the output terminal 32d on the front surface can be shortened.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, each input terminal 32e on the back surface of the board 32 is larger in area than each output terminal 32d on the front surface thereof.
  • By this arrangement, even if the contact point between the sensor 35 and the board 32 is more or less shifted, the contact therebetween can be maintained, and therefore the assembly errors of the sensor 35 and the board 32 can be made permissible in comparison with positioning error of the liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 relative to the apparatus (printer) 81.
  • The sensor assembly according to the present embodiment includes: a sensor 35 having a sensor output terminal for outputting an electric signal depending on an amount of liquid (ink) when the sensor is attached to a main body 31 of a liquid container (ink cartridge); a cover member 33 which has a connection portion 33a configured to be fixed to the main body 31 and which covers at least a part of the sensor 35; and a board 32 fixed to the cover member 33. The board 32 has: an input terminal 32e on one surface (back surface) thereof, which is contacted by the sensor output terminal 45 and to which an electric signal of the sensor 35 is input; and an output terminal 32d on another surface (front surface) thereof, from which the electric signal of the sensor 35 is output.
  • This arrangement is simple but can establish an electrical connection between the sensor 35 and the liquid container side contact terminal (i.e. the output terminal 32d of the board 32) provided for outputting the electric signal of the sensor 35 because the sensor output terminal 45 of the sensor 35 directly contacts the input terminal 32e of the board 32 having the output terminal 32d. Further, since the input terminal 32e is provided on a surface different from a surface on which the output terminal 32d is provided, it is possible to increase the area of the input terminal 32e contacted by the sensor 35, and therefore it is possible to increase assembly tolerances of the sensor 35 and the board 32.
  • The board for the liquid container according to the present embodiment includes: a board main body 32M; an input terminal 32e on one surface (back surface) of the board main body 32M, which can be contacted by a terminal 45 of an electric or electronic equipment 35 attached to the liquid container and to which an electric signal of the equipment 35 can be input; and an output terminal 32d on another surface (front surface) of the board main body 32M, from which the electric signal of the equipment 35 can be output.
  • This arrangement is simple but can establish an electrical connection between the equipment 35 and the liquid container side contact terminal (i.e. the output terminal 32d of the board 32) provided for outputting the electric signal of the equipment 35 because the terminal 45 of the equipment 35 directly contacts the input terminal 32e of the board 32 having the output terminal 32d. Further, since the input terminal 32e is provided on a surface different from a surface on which the output terminal 32d is provided, it is possible to increase the area of the input terminal 32e contacted by the equipment 35, and therefore it is possible to increase assembly tolerances of the equipment 35 and the board 32.
  • The board according to the present embodiment includes: a memory mounted to the board main body 32M; and a memory terminal 32c which is formed on the other surface (front surface) having the output terminal thereon and which is for data input and/or data output.
  • By this arrangement, the board 32 can be used commonly for signal transmission to and from the equipment 35 and for mounting the memory (such as a memory for storing data on liquid consumed amount or the like), and therefore without increase of the number of the board, the output signal of the equipment 35 can be output from the liquid container.
  • The liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 according to the present embodiment includes a main body accommodating ink therein, a board 32 and a cover member (board attaching member) 33. The board 32 has a terminal for an input signal and/or an output signal of an electric or electronic equipment (a memory 32, a sensor 35) attached to the container 21. The board 32 is attached to a fixing surface of the cover member 33, and the cover member 33 has a pawl 33a as a fitting portion provided on a surface opposite to the fixing surface. The cover member 33 is fixed to the main body 31 by the fitting portion such as the pawl 33a. The cover 33 serves as the board attaching member.
  • By this arrangement, the cover member 33 and thus the board 32 are fixed to the main body 31 by the fitting portion such as the pawl 33a which is provided on the surface of the cover member 33 opposite to the board surface contacted by a contact terminal 91c of an apparatus (printer) 81. Therefore, the contact terminal 91c cannot contact a thermally caulking portion or the like, and it is possible to suppress the generation of cut resin particles or abatements caused as a consequence of the contact by the contact terminal 91c. Accordingly, a risk of electrical contact error between the apparatus 81 and the liquid container 21 can be reduced.
  • The cover member 33 having the board 32 thereon may be attached to the main body 31 in the following matter. That is, after the cover member 33 is temporarily retained on the main body 31 against an elastic force of an electrode terminal 45 of the equipment 35 by fitting the paw 33a to the main body 31, the cover member 33 is completely fixed to the main body 31 by thermal caulking using a hole 33b and a shaft 31d. This can simplify a jig for fixing the cover 33 having the board 32 thereon to the main body 31.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, one end side of the cover member 33 is fixed by thermal caulking using the hole 33b and the shaft 31d, and the other end side of the cover member 33 is fixed by the pawl 33a.
  • By this arrangement, the one end side of the cover member 33 can be simply and firmly fixed by thermal caulking, and the other end side of the cover member 33 can dispense with thermal caulking. Accordingly, during a process of mounting the liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 to the apparatus (printer) 81 in which the contact terminal 91c of the apparatus advances from the other end side and is finally positioned and brought into contact with the terminal 32c of the board 32, the contact terminal 91c cannot contact a thermally caulking portion or the like. For this reason, it is possible to suppress the generation of cut resin particles or abatements caused as a consequence of the contact by the contact terminal 91c, and it is possible to reduce a risk of electrical contact error between the apparatus 91 and the liquid container 21.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the pawl 33a of the cover member 33 is located at a position closer to the other end of the cover member 33 than to the one end (thermal caulking side) of the cover member 33.
  • By this arrangement, since a longer distance can be secured between a position where the thermal caulking is applied and a position where the pawl 33a is fitted, the cover member 33 can be firmly fixed to the main body 31.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the board 32 is fixed, by thermal caulking, to the one end side of the cover member 33, which is the same one side where the cover member 33 is fixed to the main body 31 by thermal caulking. For example, the board 32 is fixed to the cover member 33 by thermal caulking using a protruded portion 33f located in the vicinity of the hole 33b.
  • By this arrangement, thermal caulking potions on the cover member 33 and the main body 31 are located only in the upper side, and the lower side uses the pawl 33a and a side cover 34 to dispense with thermal caulking.
  • Also, by this arrangement, the one end side of the board 32 can be simply and firmly fixed by thermal caulking, and the other end side of the board 32 can dispense with thermal caulking. Accordingly, during a process of mounting the liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 to the apparatus (printer) 81 in which the contact terminal 91c of the apparatus advances from the other end side and is finally positioned and brought into contact with the terminal 32c,32d of the board 32, the contact terminal 91c cannot contact a thermally caulking portion or the like. For this reason, it is possible to suppress the generation of cut resin particles or abatements caused as a consequence of the contact by the contact terminal 91c, and it is possible to reduce a risk of electrical contact error between the apparatus 81 and the liquid container 21.
  • In the liquid container according to the present embodiment, the board 32 is fixed to the cover member 33 so that the terminal 32c,32d are located closer to the other end of the cover member 33 than to the one end (thermally caulking side) of the cover member 33.
  • By this arrangement, during a process of mounting the liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 to the apparatus (printer) 81 in which the contact terminal 91c of the apparatus advances from the other end side and is finally positioned and brought into contact with the terminal 32c,32d of the board 32, a traveling length or contact length of the contact terminal 91c relative to the liquid container 21 can be shortened. For this reason, it is possible to suppress the generation of cut resin particles or abatements caused as a consequence of the contact by the contact terminal 91c, and it is possible to reduce a risk of electrical contact error between the apparatus 81 and the liquid container 21.
  • The board attaching member 33 for the liquid container 21 according to the present embodiment includes: a fixing portion 33f for fixing a board 32 having a terminal 32c,32d for signal input and/or signal output of an electric or electronic equipment attached to the liquid container 21; and a fitting portion 33a for fitting to the liquid container 21, the fitting portion being provided on a surface opposite to a surface on which the fixing portion is provided.
  • By this arrangement, the board attaching member 33 is fixed to the liquid container 21 by the fitting portion 33a which is provided on the surface of the board attaching member 33 opposite to the board surface contacted by a contact terminal 91c of an apparatus (printer) 81. Therefore, the contact terminal 91c cannot contact a thermally caulking portion or the like, and it is possible to suppress the generation of cut resin particles or abatements caused as a consequence of the contact by the contact terminal 91c. Accordingly, a risk of electrical contact error between the apparatus 81 and the liquid container 21 can be reduced.
  • In the board attaching member 33 according to the present embodiment, a hole 33b is provided at one end side for thermal caulking and the fitting portion 33a is provided at the other end side.
  • By this arrangement, the one end side of the board attaching member 33 can be simply and firmly fixed by thermal caulking, and the other end side of the board attaching member 33 can dispense with thermal caulking. Accordingly, during a process of mounting the liquid container (ink cartridge) 21 to the apparatus (printer) 81 in which the contact terminal 91c of the apparatus advances from the other end side and is finally positioned and brought into contact with the terminal 32c,32d of the board 32, the contact terminal 91c cannot contact a thermally caulking portion or the like. For this reason, it is possible to suppress the generation of cut resin particles or abatements caused as a consequence of the contact by the contact terminal 91c, and it is possible to reduce a risk of electrical contact error between the apparatus 81 and the liquid container 21.
  • The aforementioned embodiment is an example of the present invention, and therefore the present invention should not be restricted thereto or thereby, and can be embodied with various modifications and changes without departing from a spirit of the present invention.
  • For example, in the present embodiment, an adhesive agent may be used in place of thermal caulking for fixing members to each other.
  • In the present embodiment, the electrode terminal 45 of the sensor 35 directly contacts the terminal 32e on the back surface of the board 32 to electrically connect the sensor 35 to the board 32. In place of this arrangement, an electrically conductive member, such as a lead wire, may be used for electrical connection, and/or the board 32 and the sensor 35 may be electrically connected to each other on the front surface of the board 32.
  • In the present embodiment, the board 32, the cover member 33 and the sensor 35 may be constructed to form an assembly (unit) that is discrete from the container main body 31 and that is attachable, as one unit, to the container main body 31. Similarly, the board 32 and the sensor 35 may be constructed to form an assembly (unit). In a case in which the cover member 33 is not required, the board 32 may be directly fixed to the container main body 31.
  • In the present embodiment, the board 32 and the cover member 33 may be configured to cover an electric or electronic equipment such as the sensor 35.
  • In the present embodiment, in place of the sensor 35, a sensor of a different system may be used. For example, in place of the sensor 35 that can detect whether or not the liquid is present, a sensor that can detect a remaining amount or a consumed amount as continuous values may be used.
  • The various arrangements including but not limited to the arrangement of the board 32, etc. as discussed above can be used not only for a case in which the sensor 35 is provided to the liquid container 21 but also for a case in which an electric or electronic equipment other than the sensor 35 is provided to the liquid container 21.
  • In the present embodiment, the protruded portion (pawl 33a) is provided to the cover member 33 and the recess portion 31h is provided to the container main body 31 in order to fit the cover member 33 to the container main body 31, but the recess portion may be provided to the cover member 33 and the protruded portion may be provided to the container main body 31 for fitting.
  • In the present embodiment, sensor 35 has been shown located in the ink path between the ink accommodating portion 61 and the check valve 62. It will be appreciated that other arrangements could be employed. By way of non-limiting example, the sensor 35 could be located in the ink path between the check valve 62 and the ink supply port 31b.
  • This invention is not to be limited to the check valve described herein; any suitable structure for regulating ink flow can be used.
  • Also, the discussion of the location of the sensor 35 is equally applicable to the first embodiment of the invention.
  • In the present embodiment, the printer 81 to which the ink cartridge 21 is mountable should not be limited to one illustrated in Fig. 13, and may be constructed such that the ink cartridge 21 is mountable to a portion of the printer within a printer housing but other than the carriage, and a tube or the like is used to supply ink from the ink cartridge 21 to an ink ejection head of the carriage.
  • The sensor unit according to the present invention is not limited to specific structure discussed with reference to the sensor unit 35, 200. For example, the plate 42 or sensor base 220 may be modified or omitted, the lower housing 43 or unit base 210 may be modified or omitted, and so on.
  • INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY
  • The present invention is applicable to a liquid container for a liquid consuming apparatus, and also to a circuit board for the liquid container. Typical examples of a liquid consuming apparatus include an ink jet type recording apparatus. Examples of other liquid consuming apparatuses include an apparatus comprising a coloring material ejecting head to be used for manufacturing a color filter of a liquid crystal display, an apparatus comprising an electrode material (conducting paste) ejecting head to be used for forming an electrode of an organic EL display or a field emission display (FED), an apparatus comprising a bioorganism ejecting head to be used for manufacturing a biochip, and an apparatus comprising a sample ejecting head to be a precision pipette.
  • Claims (28)

    1. A liquid container (100) removably mountable to a liquid consuming apparatus, the liquid container (100) comprising:
      a container body (101) having a liquid accommodating portion for accommodating liquid therein, and a liquid supply port from which the liquid can be discharged to the liquid consuming apparatus;
      an outer electrode (501A) contactable with an electrode of the liquid consuming apparatus;
      an electrode supporting member (150) which supports the outer electrode (501A) and is fixed to the container body (101);
      a sensor unit (200) which is discrete from the electrode supporting member (150), is attached to the container body (101) and includes an electrode (235, 236); and
      a connector (250) which has an elasticity and which electrically connects the outer electrode (501A) to the electrode (235, 236) of the sensor.
    2. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, characterized in that the liquid container (100) has a liquid supply path which is in fluid communication with the liquid accommodating portion and the liquid supply port; and
      the sensor is for detecting liquid in a part of the liquid supply path.
    3. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, characterized in that the sensor unit (200) is a piezoelectric sensor unit (200).
    4. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, characterized in that the outer electrode (501A) receives a force from the electrode of the liquid consuming apparatus in a first direction when the outer electrode (501A) contacts the electrode of the liquid consuming apparatus, the connector is elastically deformable in a second direction, and the first direction is the same as or substantially parallel to the second direction.
    5. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, further comprising:
      a deformable seal member (270) disposed between the sensor unit (200) and a wall of the container body (101); and
      an urging member that urges the sensor unit (200) toward the wall of the container body (101), wherein the sensor unit (200) is attached to the container body (101) through the seal member and the urging member.
    6. A liquid container (100) according to claim 5, characterized in that the connector is elastically deformable in a direction substantially perpendicular to a direction in which the urging member urges the sensor unit (200).
    7. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, characterized in that the sensor unit (200) is accommodated in a recess (110) of the container body (101).
    8. A liquid container (100) according to claim 7, characterized in that an opening of the recess (110) is closed by the electrode supporting member (150).
    9. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, characterized in that the container body (101) includes: a first wall and an opposite, second wall; the liquid supply port is disposed at an offset position closer to the first wall than to the second wall.
    10. A liquid container (100) according to claim 9, characterized in that the sensor unit (200) is disposed at an offset portion closer to the first wall than to the second wall.
    11. A liquid container (100) according to claim 9, characterized in that the sensor unit (200) is disposed between the liquid supply port and the first wall in a horizontal direction in which the first wall and the second wall are opposed to each other.
    12. A liquid container (100) according to claim 9, characterized in that the container body (101) includes a lever having an engagement portion located closer to the first wall than to the second wall and displaceable toward and away from the first wall for engagement with the liquid consuming apparatus and the sensor unit (200) is disposed at an offset portion closer to the first wall than to the second wall.
    13. A liquid container (100) according to claim 12, characterized in that the sensor unit (200) is disposed between the liquid supply port and the engagement portion in a horizontal direction in which the first wall and the second wall are opposed to each other.
    14. A liquid container (100) according to claim 13, characterized in that the sensor unit (200) is disposed between the liquid supply port and the engagement portion in a vertical direction perpendicular to the horizontal direction.
    15. A liquid container (100) according to claim 9, characterized in that the electrode supporting member (150) is fixed to the first wall.
    16. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, characterized in that the container body (101) includes a top wall and a bottom wall having the ink supply port; and the sensor unit (200) is disposed at an offset position closer to the bottom wall than to the top wall.
    17. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, further comprising an inner electrode which is electrically connected to the outer electrode (501A) and which is supported by the electrode supporting member (150), wherein the connector contacts the inner electrode for electrical connection to the outer electrode (501A).
    18. A liquid container (100) according to claim 17, characterized in that the connector includes an elastic terminal plate; the elastic terminal plate is attached to the sensor unit (200) and electrically connected to a sensing element of the sensor unit (200); and the elastic terminal plate contacts the inner electrode for electrical connection between the outer electrode (501 A) and an electrode of the sensing element.
    19. A liquid container (100) according to claim 18, characterized in that the elastic terminal plate is displaceable relative to the inner electrode while maintaining contact with the inner electrode.
    20. A liquid container (100) according to claim 18, characterized in that the electrode supporting member (150) includes a circuit board that has a first surface on which the outer electrode (501 A) is formed and an opposite, second surface on which the inner electrode is formed, and the circuit board is fixed to the container body (101) so that the second surface is located between the first surface and the sensor unit (200).
    21. A liquid container (100) according to claim 20, characterized in that the electrode supporting member (150) further includes a circuit board supporting member that supports the circuit board, and the circuit board is fixed to the container body (101) through the circuit board supporting member.
    22. A liquid container (100) according to claim 21, characterized in that the circuit board supporting member has a through-hole into which a protruded portion of the elastic terminal plate is inserted for contact with the inner electrode of the circuit board.
    23. A liquid container (100) according to claim 22, characterized in that a clearance is provided between the through-hole and the protruded portion so that the protruded portion is displaceable relative to the through-hole without contacting with the through-hole.
    24. A liquid container (100) according to claim 22, characterized in that the through-hole is covered by the circuit board.
    25. A liquid container (100) according to claim 21, characterized in that the circuit board supporting member has a protruded engagement portion; the container body (101) has a mating engagement recess portion for engagement with the protruded engagement portion when the circuit board supporting member is disposed in place with respect to the container body (101).
    26. A liquid container (100) according to claim 20, further comprising a memory mounted to the second surface of the circuit board; and a memory electrode electrically connected to the memory and formed on the first surface of the circuit board.
    27. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, characterized in that the liquid accommodating portion accommodates liquid.
    28. A liquid container (100) according to claim 1, characterized in that the liquid container (100) is an ink cartridge.
    EP20060731228 2005-03-31 2006-03-30 Liquid container and method of manufacturing liquid container Expired - Fee Related EP1863643B1 (en)

    Priority Applications (7)

    Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
    JP2005103265A JP4613667B2 (en) 2005-03-31 2005-03-31 Liquid detection device, liquid container, and manufacturing method of liquid detection device
    JP2005140437A JP4984429B2 (en) 2005-05-12 2005-05-12 Container with liquid detection function
    JP2005357278A JP4710584B2 (en) 2005-12-12 2005-12-12 Ink cartridge
    JP2005357276A JP4710582B2 (en) 2005-12-12 2005-12-12 Ink cartridge
    JP2005357275A JP4710581B2 (en) 2005-12-12 2005-12-12 ink cartridge
    JP2005357277A JP4710583B2 (en) 2005-12-12 2005-12-12 Ink cartridge
    PCT/JP2006/307280 WO2006104258A1 (en) 2005-03-31 2006-03-30 Liquid container and method of manufacturing liquid container

    Publications (2)

    Publication Number Publication Date
    EP1863643A1 EP1863643A1 (en) 2007-12-12
    EP1863643B1 true EP1863643B1 (en) 2011-06-15

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    EP20060731240 Active EP1863645B1 (en) 2005-03-31 2006-03-30 Liquid container and circuit board for liquid container

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    EP20060731240 Active EP1863645B1 (en) 2005-03-31 2006-03-30 Liquid container and circuit board for liquid container

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    EP (2) EP1863643B1 (en)
    DE (2) DE102006014860A1 (en)
    GB (2) GB2424623B (en)
    NL (2) NL1031479C2 (en)
    TW (2) TW200702202A (en)
    WO (2) WO2006104258A1 (en)

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    NL1031477A1 (en) 2006-10-03
    NL1031479C2 (en) 2007-11-06
    GB0606404D0 (en) 2006-05-10
    GB0606405D0 (en) 2006-05-10
    TW200702202A (en) 2007-01-16
    NL1031477C2 (en) 2010-09-22
    EP1863643A1 (en) 2007-12-12
    DE102006014868A1 (en) 2006-11-02
    US20060250426A1 (en) 2006-11-09
    NL1031479A1 (en) 2006-10-03
    GB2424997B (en) 2007-06-13
    GB2424623A (en) 2006-10-04
    TW200700243A (en) 2007-01-01
    US7552999B2 (en) 2009-06-30
    WO2006104258A1 (en) 2006-10-05
    GB2424997A (en) 2006-10-11
    EP1863645A1 (en) 2007-12-12
    GB2424623B (en) 2007-11-21
    US7510251B2 (en) 2009-03-31
    WO2006104267A1 (en) 2006-10-05
    EP1863645B1 (en) 2012-05-16
    US20060250446A1 (en) 2006-11-09
    DE102006014860A1 (en) 2006-10-19

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